May 28, 2024

Euthanasia film wows ’em in Venice

A poignant docu-drama about a Spanish quadriplegic’s quest for death has won two prizes in the renowned Venice Film Festival. “Mar Adentro” (“The Sea Within”) depicts the plight of Ram?n Sampedro, a charismatic sailor paralysed in a diving accident who campaigned to be killed because he was “a living head glued to a dead body”. The Spanish director is Alejandro Amen?bar, who is best-known in the English-speaking world for his Nicole Kidman film “The Others”. Javier Bardem took out the best actor award and the film also won the jury grand prize.

Spanish Prime Minister Jos? Luis Rodr?guez Zapatero attended the film’s premiere and was so touched that he said it was time to renew the smouldering debate on euthanasia in Spain. However, opponents can call upon even more tragic cases to argue that euthanasia is dehumanising. The newspaper La Raz?n interviewed Olga Bejano, a 41- year-old woman who is not only a quadriplegic, but is also unable to see, speak or eat and needs a respirator to breathe. She had corresponded with Sampedro and tried to dissuade him from asking for death. “Of course I’m happy,” she told a journalist through her nurse. “I have a great sense of humour and the people who know me have never seen me cry… For a vegetable, I’m very active — I’m writing my third book.”