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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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Title: How to Die in Oregon (2011)

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Storyline

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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January 2011 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cómo morir en Oregón  »

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Featured in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #1.18 (2011) See more »

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In My Time Of Dyin'
Traditional, arranged by Tom Brosseau/Unabridged/House of Hassle
Performed by Tom Brosseau with Angela Correa
Courtesy of Loveless Records
By Arrangement with Bank Robber Music
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A Very Humane Study of Physician-Assisted Suicide
15 March 2011 | by (Austin, TX, United States) – See all my reviews

How to Die in Oregon was screened at Austin's SXSW Film Festival where it was very warmly received. This is a powerful, intimate film that closely examines the process of death and how it is carried out in the first state in the nation to legalize physician-assisted suicide, which Oregon did when it passed the Death with Dignity Act in 1994. Director Peter Richardson spent four years on this film which is tender and moving as it profiles several people in the process of contemplating their own mortality and seeking a means by which they can gain control over their own deaths.

The film is difficult to watch at times because it touches on the raw nerve of dying. While the film is clearly sympathetic to the agenda of those seeking to expand access to physician-assisted suicide, it is not, by-and-large, about the political debate. While one section does focus on a widow in Washington state working on a Death with Dignity referendum to fulfill her husband's last wish, even that section is really about her husband's death and her effort to achieve closure. This is mostly a narrative of the human pain of the dying process and the struggle to gain control by deciding how and when to choose one's own death.

The filmmaker does a wonderful job of presenting the case studies, particularly of the central story about liver cancer patient Cody Curtis and her family. Her story forms the backbone of the film and its emotional heart. Richardson manages to present extremely intimate picture that will allow many people to confront and deal with this extremely difficult issue. Our society has not yet figured out how to deal with this extremely difficult issue and films like this are extremely powerful tools for allowing us to begin to have that much-needed conversation.

The film is expected to run on HBO in the near future.


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