Known as The Sea Inside in English, Mar Adentro tells the true story of Ramon Sampedro, a 25 year old fisherman - played by award winning actor Javier Bardem - who was left crippled during a diving accident and his long fight to win the right to end his life with dignity. This Oscar-award winning film was directed by the famous Spanish director, Alejando Amenábar.
The true story of Ramon Sampedro had a very strong impact on Spanish society at the time, and helped to revitalize the debate surrounding the topic of euthanasia. At the moment, this is still a crime in Spain. Despite this, Sampedro still fought hard in a court case for his right to die, a case that was closely followed by the Spanish media, and eventually ended his life in 1998.
The film is set when Ramon Sampedro is aged 54, depending on his family to survive as he is bed bound and unable to look after himself. Although it is clear that Ramon is grateful towards his family and friends for all of their help, it is even clearer that he grows more and more frustrated with his life, especially when you consider that before his accident he had been an active young man. The film therefore follows his fight with the courts for his right to die with dignity.
While his family clearly understands the troubles that Sampedro faces, not all of them agree with him over the issue of his own death. His brother José for example is extremely opposed to the idea of an assisted suicide, as he realizes that anyone who was found out to have helped Ramon to kill himself would face the consequences of the Spanish law, something that Ramon himself does not want to happen either.
Ramon's friend Gené, who works for a 'Right to Die' organization, puts Ramon in contact with a lawyer called Julia. Julia, who herself is suffering from a chronic disease, helps Ramon to put up a case for the courts. While they are working on the case, Ramon begins to fall in love with Julia, who is a married woman. Seeing his affection for her, Julia begins to have second thoughts about his case, and she tries to convince him that life is worth living. However Ramon still wants to continue, saying that the greatest gift she could give him was the ability to put an end to his life.
Throughout the Mar Adentro, Ramon Sampedro is also visited frequently by a local woman named Rosa who sees his story on the news, and who decides to try and convince him that life can be great if you make sure that you appreciate things everyday. Both Rosa and Julia are inspired by Sampedro and love to accomplish many things, proving that despite being unable to physically move, Ramon could move other people with his words.
Awards and Recognition
This film can be a bit heavy for those looking for some light viewing, however it is an excellent film to watch if you want to appreciate truly top-notch Spanish cinema with a deep theme. However, Mar Adentro does not impose the issue of euthanasia and all its tangents on us, but instead focuses on the theme of love. In all parts of the movie there are people in love, in search of love and in need of love.
Furthermore, the film is kept interesting and progressive thanks to the tight script writing, despite most of the action taking place in just one room. Javier Bardem's performance is fantastic and has merited him a number of awards. However he is also backed up by an excellent supporting cast, who portray the emotion and pain of the family extremely well.
Mar Adentro is a film that made audiences weep across a whole host of countries. For its efforts it received numerous awards that speak volumes about the time and effort put in to portray the brave character of Ramon Sampedro. Most notably, Mar Adentro became the most awarded Spanish film at the Goya Awards. Just some of the awards the movie won include:
- Best Foreign Film - Academy Awards, Broadcast Film Critics Association awards, Golden Globe awards and Satellite awards.
- Best Actor - Cinema Writers Circle
- Best Supporting Actress - Cinema Writers Circle
- Best International Film - Venice Film Festival
- 14 Goya Awards including Best Actor and Best Film