So I’m not quite sure what to make of this movie. The DVD case described The Sea Inside, a film from Spain, as the story of a man who spent 30 years fighting for the right to die. As a seminary graduate, the movie intrigued my Christian ethics roots, so I added it to a stack of movies I was collecting to watch over the next week.
The movie is based on a true story. The main character, Ramon, broke his neck in a diving accident at around 20 years of age, resulting in his becoming a quadriplegic. He refuses a wheelchair and only leaves his brother’s house once or twice a year – and that only after repeated insistence from his caretaker and sister-in-law, Manuela. He spends his days daydreaming of the sea, listening to the radio, using a tool he devised to write with his mouth, and developing inventions which his father and nephew then make into reality.
And most of his time is contemplating the one thing he wants most: to die.
So I guess I was expecting the movie to raise a lot of questions, to have its characters debate the topic some. I don’t know. But it didn’t happen. In the end, the high court of Spain rejects his petition to be allowed euthanasia (as a quadriplegic, he cannot even commit suicide on his own). In an argument with a friend over his desire to die, Ramon says, “Life is a right, not an obligation,” but he is ‘forced’ to live even though he does not wish to.
A Catholic bishop (I believe he is a bishop), also a quadriplegic, comes to the house to reason with Ramon, to no avail.
With the court’s rejection, Ramon is forced to suffer his fate of laying in bed endlessly until his body finally gives out. Except that he and some friends – including a group that is fighting for the “right to die” – devise a plan where many different people do small things, not illegal in themselves, to prepare a cup of poison that Ramon can drink. He is one person short of accomplishing this. A woman who comes to visit him and falls in love with him agrees after Ramon argues that if she loves him, truly loves him, she will honor his wishes and help him to die.
So the last scene of the movie is Ramon videotaping himself with a cup of potassium cyanide next to himself. He addresses the court, then lifts his head and drinks the entire contents. And dies.
There were three of us watching the movie, and we were just left speechless at the end. We never really connected with Ramon’s plight. We did not emotionally involve ourselves with any of the characters. The movie was presented so matter of factly…it was very odd.
Anyway, I can’t say that I recommend the movie necessarily, but maybe it will spark some discussion. Let me know what you think.