How to Die in Oregon (2011)
Directed by Peter Richardson
Welcome to Oregon, in 1994 the first state to legalize physician assisted suicide. With poignant interviews, this movie tells the story of a handful of people considering ending their lives in the face of terrible diseases. From cancer to ALS, the film looks all of the factors people need to consider when choosing to die. The film is incredibly personal, using interviews from the patients, their families, friends, and physicians.
Filmmaker Peter Richardson took his first major step into the spotlight with this critically acclaimed look at this controversial subject. For such a polarizing subject he managed to stay incredibly neutral, allowing the conclusion to be left to the viewers. This is a major victory for a film on the subject of physician assisted suicide. There have been others (The Suicide Tourist, The Suicide Plan) but this seemed to be the most honest. Overall, this movie seemed to gain unique and intimate access to the subjects, allowing them to tell their own stories without prompting.
I’ve seen a lot of documentaries on the subject of dying, but this one was more about the choices that need to be made when death is still just an option. Sure, these people are all likely to die of their diseases anyhow, but this is a time when they have a lot of choices still to make. This choice isn’t easily made, as the film shows, and it’s amazing to see inside this very personal time in someone’s life. If you’re a fan of documentaries, I think this is a must-see. Whether you’re against or for physician assisted suicide, this gives a very fair picture of what really happens for these people. I give this one 5 out of 5 stars.