Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Review: The Sea Inside

I watched this film at the suggestion of Red and Dori. I am glad I did.

The story revolves around Ramon Sampedro, a quadraplegic, who campaigns for the right to end his life.

This was such a beautifully and sensitively made film. Now, I don't understand a word of Spanish, but I felt the portrayal of characters was really powerful. It is a very moving story, based on the real events in the life of a Galician fisherman.

Did I find it depressing? No. Uplifting? Now. Challenging? Yes.

I used to be a pro-life campaigner. Big time. Used to go on the marches, hold up the placards, wore those little silver baby feet pinned to my school blazer. The whole shebang. Until I started to realise a few things that I hadn't contemplated before. I won't bore you with the whole story (but if you want me to blog about what changed me from pro-life to pro choice, I'd be happy to do that - leave a comment or send me an email), but the film reflected back to me how much my own feelings towards this subject has changed.

My only beef with the film was that sometimes the subtitles were difficult to read. Otherwise, it's definitely one of those you should put on your list.

What interested me more was the story of the REAL Ramon Sampedro. So I found the following links for anyone who is interested:


Time Article

It was fascinating to me how many people felt that they had a right to say something about what this man should do: should he end his life? Should he not? The church got involved. The government. All the while, his family stood quietly by, watching.

Sampedro says in the movie (to paraphrase) that if someone truly loved him, they would let him end his life. And that got me to thinking about grief and dying and how we are so keen to keep our terminally sick loved ones with us without thinking of what is happening to them. I sometimes wonder if we are more compassionate to our animals by allowing them to be euthanased.

Since the issue of euthanasia has come up with my father (who is quite fine at the moment, thank you), watching this was difficult, even though it's a completely different situation.

I hope this sparks debate, but I hope also that it allows for respectful and open-minded exchanges.

As for me? I am all for euthanasia. But that is another story.


  1. Tanya, I'd be curious to hear what changed your mind from pro-life to pro-choice but only if you're comfortable talking about it - don't feel that you have to explain your opinions or views to anyone.

    I'd definately with you on the thought that we often treat our pets better than our loved ones. My grandmother suffered from diabetes, scerosis (sp) of the liver, and finally dementia towards the end of her life. As she spent the last few weeks in the hospital not knowing who she was, unable to recognize even her husband of 50+ years, and not understanding what was going on around her, her doctors eventually decided to stop feeding her. Yes, she was certain to die fairly soon even if she was able to be fed but she basically started to starve to death before she finally passed. When my father told us about how she had been at the very end, I was disgusted. I would never let my cats suffer even 1/4 of what she went through. Yes, she was unable to make any decisions regarding her health but how could those who loved her so much allow her life to end that way?

    Woman have won the right (in some countries/states) to decide what happens with their bodies but we deny people the right to determine when and how they want to die. If I develop a terminal illness and have no hope of recovery, there might be a time where I decide I've had enough. Why should the government, any religion, or my next door neighbour be allowed to decide whether I live or die. It's my life, it should be my decision or the decision of my family if I'm no longer able to think for myself.

  2. Glad to hear you liked the film. But then, anyone who is willing to be drawn into a debate would enjoy something as challenging as this.

    It's a difficult balance, isn't it, between our selfish desire to have the people we love around us all the time and respecting their suffering and their desire to end it. It's particularly hard, I guess, when the person is question is relatively young. I'm not advocating leaving our elders on an iceberg to drift off to die (is that what the Eskimos do? I kinda seem to remember reading it somewhere), but if a person has lived a full life and is now in pain, perhaps we should listen to what they want and consider their motivations.

    Incidentally, when my Dad was in hospital, he kept ripping out whatever tubes he had up his nose and trying to dress himself up to go home. My mum would tell me they had to tie him up to the bed half the time because he just didn't want to be there. How humiliating for this beautiful, strong man.

    I said to her, "Why don't we let him come home?" and she shouted down the phone, "If he comes home, he will die, do you get it?!?" and I said, "Maybe, but at least he will die with his dignity, in a place he loves, not a friggin' hospital room where he can't even move because he is strapped to the bed." So, in hospital he stayed... and he died there. With just a nurse (paid for by my family... God forbid that the hospital actually had any staff looking after him) for company.

  3. Karen and Red - such sad stories. I am so sorry to hear about the way you lost members of your family. My father has made it clear that he wants no tubes, no artificial breathing stuff. If they want to feed him via drip, fine, but if he dies, he doesn't want to be resuscitated. In South Africa, there is no such thing as a DNR order (I think - things may have changed) and we have learned that his specialist is not averse to using a little more morphine than required... I support his wishes. It's not my body to decide what to do with. I love him, I will miss him, but if he gets to that stage where he is immobilised and half dead (which he will, eventually) he doesn't want to be just a body to be kept around for sentimental reasons.

    It makes no difference where or how you die. Death comes to us all. Why not make it comfortable, and on terms that you find dignified?

  4. Red's story, of course, I know very well already, and it is part of our lives. Karen's story of her grandmother is very sad, too. Shit, the stuff we go through, huh...?

    Glad you liked the film, Tanya. It's really very good, isn't it?

    Funny, "knowing" you now, I find it hard to picture you as a pro-life campaigner. Be interesting to hear that stuff, like Karen says, tho', if you are happy to share.

  5. Hey, *. You'd also be surprised to know then that I used to teach Sunday School. Well, Catechism. (When I was Mrs Fallon)

  6. Glad you liked the film - I found it sad and beautiful.

    Oh how well I remember those pro-life days of yours - didn't it almost cause the end of our friendship? ;>