Academy Award nominee Javier Bardem (Before Night Falls) delivers a powerful and sensitive portrayal of a quadriplegic who fights to win the right to end his life with dignity. Based on a true story. DVD Features:Audio Com... more »mentary:Director CommentaryDeleted Scenes:Documentaries:"A trip to The Sea Inside" Making-ofStoryboards:Theatrical Trailer:« less
"The rule of thumb is that Life is preferable to Death. But, on your mental scale, what value judgement would tip the balance towards the latter? THE SEA INSIDE is a forceful, emotive and sympathetic examination of assisted suicide. It's not a film for those seeking the usual Saturday afternoon pabulum of Hollywood escapism. And for those that believe that opting out of Life is never an option, it will likely be infuriating.
In a Oscar-worthy performance, Javier Bardem plays Ramón Sampedro, the Spanish poet who became a quadriplegic at age 26 when he dove into shallow waters and broke his cervical spine. In THE SEA INSIDE, it's now almost three decades later, and Sampedro is spending the last two years of his life petitioning the conservative Spanish government for the right to die with dignity via an assisted suicide. The film is an extraordinarily well acted piece by all members of the cast.
The family that cares for Ramón 24/7 includes his older brother José (Celso Bugallo), his brother's wife Manuela (Mabel Rivera), his father Germán (Alberto Jimenéz), and his nephew Javi (Tamar Novas). Besides the dedicated Manuela, who loves Ramón like a son, there are three other extraordinary women in his life: Julia (Belén Rueda, in her acting debut), the lawyer who handles Sampedro's legal case and who has a secret of her own, Gené (Clara Segura), the representative of a national right-to-die organization, and Rosa (Lola Dueñas), the single, working mother of two that just stopped in to say hello to the invalid and ends up adoring him. Indeed, the large number of caring females in Sampedro's stunted life yields perhaps the film's only trace of humor. When jealousies simmer among the gentler sex, Ramón discovers that he has women problems.
In emotional intensity, THE SEA INSIDE transcends that other recent award-winning film about assisted suicide, THE BARBARIAN INVASION (2003). At mid-point, in a sequence of devastating power, the camera becomes a window on Sampedro's fantasy that he can leave his bed. At another time, Ramón's bedridden helplessness is contrasted to the virile, active young man he once was through a series of old photographs examined by Julia. And the visual presentation throughout is mated to a dynamite soundtrack (that I'll definitely purchase!).
This production is Spain's entry into the 2004 Academy Award competition for Best Foreign Film. If it doesn't walk away with that golden statue, then I certainly want to see the film that does.
THE SEA INSIDE makes a strong case for voluntary Death with Dignity for those wishing that escape. It's certainly controversial, as evidenced by the Web sites attacking its stance. If you're looking for an intelligent, thought-provoking, sobering experience - I hesitate to use the word "entertainment" - see it as soon as it's released. It will likely remain in the artsy theaters and not go into wide distribution."
Peter Shermeta | Rochester, MI | 03/31/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film of 2004, The Sea Inside is a fact-based story of Ramón Sampedro, a quadriplegic man who petitions the Spanish government for his right to die. Without the use of his body for 27 years, Sampedro desires above all else the right to be euthanized. His story is taken on by an association that goes by the name of "Die with Dignity" which is how he has a voice in court.
The story begins as a lawyer comes to Ramón to learn his story. She has taken the case pro bono to get his wish to die granted by the courts. This is the first person we see him encounter that tries to understand him; she is not the last.
Through these meetings we see how truly remarkeable Sampedro really is. We see the devices he has invented to assist him in his situation. We see the poetry his heart has poured out over the years. We are party to conversations in which he explains life and freedom of choice, he talks of a future he hopes not to have. Every person he communicates with is so deeply moved by him; it is humbling to see the effect one man may have on others.
Director Alejandro Amenábar (Open Your Eyes, The Others) brings to life this story of a man enslaved to his body. The movie is set in the house Ramón refuses to leave, though we see incredible landscape shots and are taken on an amazing ride as Sampedro jumps out of his two story window and flies all the way to the beach. Through his eyes we see how he lingers over the blue-green water. To this former sailor, the sea represents that which gave him life and ultimately took it away.
The only thing worse than your son dying before you...is him wanting to. -Joaquín Sampedro (Ramón's father)
This was an absolutely beautiful movie. Try as I may to exercise my vocabulary, I keep ending up with the word "beautiful" to describe The Sea Inside. This heart wrenching tale offers various perspectives on both life and death. If you have ever taken the time to consider either, and even if you have not, this movie will be special to you. And I will warn you that there are a few times in the movie when not crying seems unthinkable. I cannot help the feeling that in seeing this movie in the theater last night I was a part of something important. I look forward to the DVD release on May 17, 2005."
Another Knockout Bardem Performance Ignites Euthanasia Film
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 05/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With his outsize facial features and unremitting soulfulness, Javier Bardem is a supremely adroit actor, who reminds me quite a bit of a mid-century Anthony Quinn in that they share chameleonic abilities and earthy charisma. As he proved with his stunning portrayal of Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas in 2001's "Before Night Falls", Bardem can bring resonance to a real-life character and imbue him with a palpable humanistic spirit. In this film, he plays quadriplegic Ramón Sampedro, who traveled the world in his youth as a seaman and then suffered a tragic dive off a cliff which left him paralyzed. For thirty years, Sampedro's brother and sister-in-law took care of him on their farm in Galicia, and his one unresolved wish is to die with dignity rather than face another day not being able to move anything more than his head. The controversial issue of euthanasia has been addressed numerous times, most recently in Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby". It continues to be a hot topic stateside, but perhaps because of its Spanish perspective, director/writer Alejandro Amenábar has fashioned a story that seems less issue-oriented and more about how Sampedro infused those around him with a transformative sense of life's possibility. There is something quite profound about this subtly observed irony, and Amenábar, along with co-writer Mateo Gil, seems intent on challenging us to share Sampedro's single-minded perspective while empathizing with the increasing grief his loved ones feel for his approaching loss.
Bardem is a wonder as usual, as he convincingly portrays a man in his mid-fifties who can only show his emotions from the neck up, especially through his large expressive eyes, yet you get a charged sense of the life-force that fed his curiosity about the world and his love of the sea. An excellent make-up job by Jo Allen is only part of it, as he gets deep under the skin of Sampedro. Belén Rueda poignantly plays his soul-mate Julia, the beautiful lawyer who is battling her own serious illness while helping Sampedro prepare his case to challenge the anti-euthanasia laws. She is hired because he believes she will be especially sympathetic to his cause, which proves true to a degree that makes her seriously examine her own fate. There is a lovely fantasy scene when Sampedro gets to his feet, and then the camera takes his perspective of running toward the window and flying out the window across the countryside to meet Julia on the beach where they passionately embrace. This is all done to the accompaniment of Puccini's ''Nessun dorma", and Amenábar miraculously bypasses contrivance to achieve something transcendent. As Rosa, the young single mother who becomes infatuated with Sampedro when she sees him on TV, Lola Dueñas (the nurse from Almodóvar's "Talk to Her") provides an effective common-folk counterpoint to Julia, and the story has us wonder which woman will eventually help Sampedro with the final deed. They are almost yin and yang to Sampedro - Julia is cool and glamorous, while Rosa is talkative and needy. His immediate family is equally torn about Sampedro's decision, and Mabel Rivera stands out as Sampedro's selfless, attentive sister-in-law. Clara Segura also shines as Gené, a pro-choice activist who dances the precipitous line between personal and professional with alternate strokes of alacrity and regret. Credit also needs to go to cinematographer Javier Aguierresarobe, who seems to bathe the movie in subtle lights and colors to match the varying moods of each scene.
The extras on the DVD include a Spanish-language commentary track by Amenábar, which unfortunately has not been translated into English. I suppose it's a marketing reality that the DVD cover (movie poster), as well as the main menu and movie trailer included in the package, all highlight the youthful Bardem from the brief flashback scenes of his pre-accident existence. Regardless, there are three valuable deleted scenes of which I think one, "Julia Changes Her Mind", should have been reinstated to better understand her character's ambiguity toward the end of the film. There is a comprehensive making-of documentary which I found fascinating, in particular, for Bardem's intensive preparation for the role and the touching video footage of the real Sampedro. Amenábar has made a deeply provocative film provided light and gravitas by a searing Bardem. Strongly recommended."
Carlos A. Sogamoso | USA | 05/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was fortunate enough to acquire an overseas DVD version of the film. Thought provoking and emotionally riveting. Javier Bardem does a great job of portraying a man not only gravitating towards the right to die but also struggling with the logic of making such a decision. I won't give it away but the climatic scene where he questions his own proclivity (in an emotionally verbal outrage) as to WHY he wants to die, made my jaw drop, forcing to direct the question at myself. Don't miss this film!! "
"This film that deserved with all the possible honors the Prize as Best Foreign Film deals with a delicate and very personal ethic crossroad: Can you decide your lifetime under these awful and painful conditions?
Obviously the omnipresence of the death is a motive of fear and anguish for a great number of human beings. But my personal reflection is this: the death is the last stage of your life, so I think it's better to re formulate the question for another one. The real important aspect is how have you lived? and not focuse exclusively in how you will die. We are in the world for living and doing everything what we can make, according our natural gifts and talents: the rest of the issue has no importance. If you have had the opportunity to follow your bliss what's the problem with dying in an early age?. I consider it's better to live a short life and productive instead a long life and improductive.
So in this point I believe you must respect the personal decision of every person to turn off the light of his private existence under these horrible conditions.
All the ethic considerations seem obvious while you are from the other side of the issue. It is so easy to judge the outer decisions arguing words but Do you think it is enough to talk and only for a just moment to assume his terrible position?.
Amenabar built a supreme film where he presents a huge portrait about the different ethic positions; the beloved brother who denies the final solution arguing his point of view, till his lovely lawyer who will suffer a secure death.
San Pedro is clearer about that issue than many of us. He got and tried to exhibit all the possible arguments and was not heard at all under legal circumstances. The discussion among the priest and Bardem is one the highlight issues of the film.
Javier Bardem at this time is one of the best five actors in the Cinema world. His facial expressions are a real master class for all the acting students and the rest of the audience. His face is a real rainbow which shows all the possible frecuencies in what anima concerns.
What was the unexpainable reason which avoided he was not nominated for the Academy Award by this acting? Because if you argue the theme is delicate I could remember you the Academy Award to Hanks by Philadelphia for instance, or the most recent Prize to Benigni in Life is beautiful and Adrian Brody for the Pianist. Anyway, the past now belongs to the story and this default will never hide the astonishing presence and sublime performance of this talented actor who caught with admirable eloquence the personal tragedy of a sensitive and extraordinary human being.
The rest of the cast worked out to perfection level. There is no any fissure, and the edition and photograph are simply overwhelming.
This is a masterpiece film and being Alejandro Amenábar a very young film maker, it would be risky to affirm this is his masterpiece, but if not it will be one of the three major achievements in his promising career.