Film & Dialogue: "The Sea Inside"


Today SRC is hosting it’s first Film and Dialogue event of 2014 with an Academy Award winning film that premiered 10 years ago.  The Sea Inside, by Spanish director Alejandro Amenábar, offers an interpretation of quadriplegic Spaniard Ramón Sampedro’s fight for the right to a legal assisted suicide in the late 1990s.  Javier Bardem plays Sampedro, a man who presents his case for death with charm, wit, and poetic colloquialisms.  

Physician assisted suicides are legal in Oregon, Vermont, and Washington state if the patient is of sound mind to make the decision and has been diagnosed with a terminal illness with less than six months to live.  Sampedro is not terminally ill.  However, between Bardem and Amenábar it is difficult to watch The Sea Inside and not root for Sampedro to receive the death that he so wholeheartedly craves.  This realization, which can be startling, forces the audience to question what aspects of our values and morals inform our belief that life should be lived until it naturally comes to an end.  For some, it might be a belief in the sacrity of life and the understanding that suicide and murder, no matter what their motives, are sinful.  For others, it might be something more human or intellectual, leaning on precedents from similar situations in the past when someone in a similar situation continued to live well despite their physical restraints.  Whatever the reasoning, it pushes up against the will to survive that is so intrinsically a part of life.

Throughout the film Sampedro says that anyone who really loves him will help him die.  The film shows us that many of the people who love him most, his family, caretakers, lovers, and friends, refuse to assist in his suicide.  Although these commentaries are subtle, they offer an interesting commentary on the spectrum of ways to encounter death.


The Film and Dialogue Series is a monthly event at Harvard Divinity School sponsored by the Science, Religion, and Culture Program.  Please join us this Tuesday, February 4, from 6:30-9:30 in Divinity Chapel, Divinity Hall (14 Divinity Ave.).  Pizza and drinks will be provided.  RSVP to