Today I watched the movie The Sea Inside about the life of quadriplegic, Ramon Sampedro, who decided to end his life because of his physical disability. In the movie he is brilliantly portrayed by Javier Bardem, one of my favourite actors. The director Alejandro Amenábar is a favourite of South African movie critic Barry Ronge, and when you see this film you realise maybe why he is the most respected Spanish director currently making movies in both Europe and America (The Others). This was a film I wanted to watch not in the least because he is my namesake – Ramon – but because I also had several bouts of depression, with at least two of them driving me to towards suicide. So I could see a part of me inside the main character of this film.
Ramon Sampedro campaigned for almost 30 years to be allowed to take his own life, also known as euthanasia, which is illegal in most countries. He believed he was not living with dignity and his the only thing he looked forward to was his death. His main argument rested on the fact that he was sure he wanted to die. Freud called this the Thanatos – or the death drive and is the opposite of eros. Before the accident he travelled all over the world, brilliantly shown by a collage of photos to his married lawyer, Julia (Belén Rueda). She herself has a degenerative disease, which reduces her capacity to walk and function after several strokes. At some point during their engagements there is moments of intimacy that develops between them, especially after Julia reads Ramon’s poetry. She insists that they must be published and that they would eventually jointly commit suicide when the first book is delivered from the printers. This never happens because she has the book sent to him and goes her own way to some extent. Towards the end of the film it becomes clear that her own health had deteriorated to such an extent she was not able to mentally function and follow through on the promise she had made to Ramon.