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Return to 2006 Films

Index of 2006

An Inconvenient Truth
Big Bad Swim
Brokeback Mountain
Cinderella Man
The Departed
The DaVinci Code
Eron: The Smartest
Guys in the Room

Good Night and
Good Luck

Half Nelson
History of Violence
Hotel Rwanda
Little Miss Sunshine
Journey from the Fall
March of the Penguins
Million Dollar Baby
Prairie Home Companion
Star Wars III:
Revenge of the Sith

Thank You for Smoking
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
The Sea Inside
United 93
War of the Worlds
Walk the Line
World Trade Center

The Sea Inside
A Review by Tom Condon, OP
(St. Martin Province)

"The Sea Inside" is the real life story of Spaniard Ramon Sampedro who fought a 30-year campaign in favor of his right to die with dignity. Two women try to change his life - Julia (Belen Rueda) is a lawyer who supports his cause, and Rosa (Lola Dueqas) is a neighbor who wants to convince him that life is worth living. The two women's encounters with the charismatic Ramon lead to change in their own lives. 125 min.

This year’s Oscar winner for best foreign film is Spain’s The Sea Inside. It’s a beautifully made film that tells the true story of Ramon Sampedro (Javier Bardem), who has been paralyzed from the neck down for 30 years as a result of a diving accident. Ramon is confined to his bed in a second story room in his small family farm house where he can look out at the sea. In his dreams, he soars out of his window over the fields and the sea.

Even though he is full of life, and surrounded by the love of his father, brother, sister-in-law, and nephew, Ramon wants to be able to end his life. He believes that he is living a life without dignity, and should have the right to end his life. A female lawyer, who suffers from a degenerative disease, comes to visit Ramon to prepare a legal case. They form a unique bond of love and respect. Ramon feels that, because of her disease, she can truly understand his feeling about the life and death.

I was continually struck that, for a film about a man’s right to die, the movie is full of life. Ramon is embraced by his family. Ramon has many visitors, including Rosa, a woman who loves him, and argues against his wish to die. Ramon gives her hope and encouragement in her life. Ramon writes beautifully, holding a brush in his teeth. He loves to listen to music. At the same time, Ramon feels a prisoner in his body, and wishes to die.

A television story on Ramon’s case features a comment from a priest who is severely handicapped himself, confined to a wheelchair. Even though he has never met Ramon, the priest makes the incredibly insensitive statement that Ramon’s fight to end his life is really a cry for love. He must have no love in his life. The priest comes to visit Ramon, and, after a brief conversation, is thrown out. Ramon’s sister-in-law also tells him off for his comment about the lack of love in Ramon’s life. I don’t know if this incident or character is based on fact. I wished the priest could have been as sympathetic as the one in Million Dollar Baby. Unfortunately, he is another in the long line of cinematic priests who are insensitive idiots. Pastoral care ministers: note how not to respond in such a situation!

The film follows Ramon’s battle to take his own life through the courts, which deny him. In the end, however, Ramon does take his life by drinking cyanide. Ramon films this scene, so others can witness.

As I said, I thought it so ironic that The Sea Inside is so full of life, when all Ramon wants to be able to do is to die. Any response I can make seems insensitive like the priest in the movie. Never having suffered as Ramon did, I try to understand the lack of dignity in his total reliance on others for everything: food, hygiene, turning him and massaging him. Yet he has so much life to give, and receives so much love from others, I don’t see his death as a victory for him or anyone else.

Can I appreciate The Sea Inside, even though I disagree with its central premise? Yes, of course, and would recommend it, especially to those living with, caring for, or ministering to severely disabled persons.

Tom Condon, OP

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