Screened as part of NZIFF 2005
This year’s Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film is based on the true story of Ramón Sampedro, a quadriplegic who famously fought the Spanish government for the right to end his life. While he lived, the charismatic Sampedro wrote poetry and a best-selling memoir, and was a constant media presence. When, almost 30 years after the diving accident that paralysed him, he committed assisted suicide, his final words were broadcast on Spanish television and more than 3,000 Spaniards signed confessions saying that they were responsible for his death. Alejandro Amenábar’s elegantly persuasive movie, dominated by an understated performance from the excellent Javier Bardem, makes the most of Sampedro’s status as a dynamic spiritual and intellectual force, deprived of meaningful physical existence. His heightened sense of the life that’s denied him makes him the film’s most passionate advocate of the value of life itself. His conviction that he knows best does not always wear well with his sister-in-law or the other caring souls whose own lives are dominated by his welfare. Amenábar’s sensitive attention to this small community gathered around the public figure embeds the larger issues in emotional reality.
"Some will find The Sea Inside inspirational… But the more earthbound among us can simply enjoy the film’s provocative insistence that if one is to be denied the full capacity to love, to experience a full range of emotions and experiences, dying is no disgrace, no sin, no proof of cowardice… The Sea Inside operates as stealth art: stately, moving, beautifully acted, and urgently subversive to our own status quo." — Ken Tucker, New York Magazine