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photo Death on Request
By Maarten Nederhorst

This gentle but astonishing documentary records Cees de Joode, a Dutch man suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — an incurable degenerative muscle disease better known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease" — as he, his wife Antoinette, and his doctor choose euthanasia to end his torment.

In 1993, it became obvious that the illness would swiftly take Cees' life. Already in a wheelchair, his legs and feet paralyzed, unable to move his right shoulder or arm, and almost incapable of speaking, Cees started a journal using his personal computer. He wrote in it "The possibility of euthanasia has for months been a comforting thought to me. It gets me on my feet again - at least figuratively. Literally, that's totally out of the question. It helps enormously in setting my limits." He let his doctor know that as his death approached, and his body degenerated further, he wished to choose his time to die.

Death on Request then chronicles the period after which Cees made this decision, the many visits his doctor paid on him and Antoinette, and the actual administration of the lethal injection. When the time comes, the doctor makes a final trip to see his patient "with lead in his shoes." Cees toasts their health, sips his last port, and slowly directs his wheelchair to his bed, where he will end his life peacefully, as he wished, with his wife and doctor present.

57 minutes
© 1994
Purchase $248 DVD
Order No. QA-562

Reviews
"*** [3 Stars] A discreet, tasteful, but unflinching look at the reality of [euthanasia]... This video is remarkably free of polemics and posturing. Viewers willing to confront a painful subject will find it an instructive, even moving experience. Strongly recommended." S. Rees, Video Librarian

"[Death on Request] seems certain to become an essential document in the debate on euthanasia. It is a remarkable achievement, holding the viewer in an almost unbearable intimacy with what, probably for most of us, is an almost unthinkable situation." Ian Mayes, The Guardian (London)

"One of the most powerful and emotionally draining pieces of television that I can recall seeing...The death, when it came, was quick, quiet, and devastating." Matthew Bond, The Times (London)

"[Death on Request] goes far beyond our expectations in dealing with euthanasia, an extremely delicate moral issue which creates world-wide controversy. It is treated with such reserve and sensitivity that it goes straight to our hearts." Banff Television Festival

Awards & Conference Screenings
Silver Apple Winner, 1997 National Educational Media Network Competition
Freddie Award Winner, 1996 International Health & Medical Films Competition
Grand Prize Winner, 1995 Banff Television Festival

Related Films
Live and Let Go: Faced with terminal cancer, 76-year-old Sam Niver chooses to die with dignity and on his own terms. This will be a moving and provocative trigger for discussions of assisted suicide.

Caring at the End of Life: Based on six case studies of seriously ill hospitalized patients, this moving film focuses on the key roles of nursing staff in improving patient-clinician communication in end-of-life care.

To Live Until I Die: Most Americans die in the hospital, often alone and in pain. These six terminally ill individuals are facing what lies ahead with anger, humor, insight, and honesty — determined to have a "good death."

Exit: Profiles the EXIT organization, which for over twenty years has counseled and accompanied the terminally-ill and severely handicapped towards a death of their choice.

Facing Death: Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's seminal book "On Death and Dying," brought her international fame. This intimate portrait was filmed in 2002, when she lived secluded in the desert, awaiting - as she says - her own death.


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