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How to Die in Oregon (2011)

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In 1994 Oregon became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. At the time, only Belgium, Switzerland, and the Netherlands had legalized the practice. 'How to Die in Oregon' ... See full summary »


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In 1994 Oregon became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. At the time, only Belgium, Switzerland, and the Netherlands had legalized the practice. 'How to Die in Oregon' tell the stories of those most intimately involved with the practice today -- terminally ill Oregonians, their families, doctors, and friends -- as well as the passage of an assisted suicide law in Washington State. Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

January 2011 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cómo morir en Oregón  »

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Hard to Watch But Impossible to Forget
2 November 2011 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

How to Die in Oregon (2011)

**** (out of 4)

This emotionally draining documentary talks about the 1994 Death with Dignity law that was passed in Oregon, which allows people the choice to pick when they want to die. The documentary talks with several people who have decided to share their stories, which has most of them dealing with a terminal illness that has no cure. The question becomes if they want to spend the last few months of their lives in pain or if they would prefer to end their lives through physician-assisted suicide. The topic of this has been a hot debate item for a very long time but thankfully director Peter Richardson doesn't try to turn this film into some sort of political debate. I think the film is a very honest and open look at all sides of the debate but thankfully we never get to any childish bickering between the sides. I had read a few reviews of this film and it one said that you'd be crying within the first five minutes of the picture and there's no question that these opening moments are some of the hardest I've had to watch. We basically see a man surrounded by his family getting ready to die, which to me leads to some of the most honest moments where you the viewer have to ask yourself what you would do. What would you say to your loved ones in the final minutes of your life? Would there be a final word that you'd want to get out? We also follow another woman, Cody, who is suffering from cancer and she's given six months to life but keeps the pills it takes to end her life is she decides to. Her issue is not knowing when to say she's had enough or if she'll know the moment when she wants to die. We follow her as her case gets better but then takes a drastic and fast turn. We also see things from the other side, which is a man whose health insurance says they won't pay for him to try and fight for life yet they will pay for him to end his life. All of these stories are just emotionally draining and although this film is a masterpiece, it's easy to see why it's appeal would be quite limited. I can sit here and say that the people here are inspirational and I can say that the director handles everything with such dignity and class but in the end the viewer is really going to have to ask themselves if they want to sit through watching people die. As depressing as some of these stories are, at the same time they are quite uplifting seeing people appreciate the life they do have and the importance of having people you love around you. HOW TO DIE IN OREGON is a very powerful, extremely well-made picture that is certainly worth viewing if you can put up with the graphic drama.

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