How to Die in Oregon

1217 Words May 2nd, 2012 5 Pages
How to Die in Oregon
Portland, USA, 107 Min., 3/13/12 9PM (Watched online) How to Die in Oregon is an emotionally charged, and intimate exploration of the controversial “Death with Dignity” Law passed in the state of Oregon in 1994. How to Die in Oregon received the Grand Jury Prize in the U. S. Documentary Competition at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, along with other countless accolades, and is currently available as an HBO Original Film. In his film, filmmaker Peter Richardson, employs the observational mode of documentary to witness how patients families and friends grapple with the legal option of physician assisted suicide. In exploring the complexities surrounding this topic, Richardson interviews doctors on both sides of
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Richardson produced, directed and captured all the footage himself. The end result is a multitude of powerful one-on-one interviews, archival footage of patients, and candid long takes. Richardson cuts himself out of the interviews, and edits together strikingly frank sound bytes to showcase his subjects talking about death and the affect of the law. His use of archival footage primarily captures his patients when they were healthy, and provides a striking contrast as they seriously discuss death towards the end of their lives. His use of candid long takes captures some of the most poignant moments of the film, including the final minutes of one man’s life after taking the lethal drugs. The camera is a spectator in the room, as the man accompanied by his family; all face his personal decision to die together. All of these different footage types work together to provide emotional weight to an already troubling subject.
2) Richardson’s non-interventionist style is a prime example of observational documentary, and works specifically well in capturing and promulgating the subject of death. According to Nichols, observational documentaries started appearing in the 1960’s as result of more mobile and smaller equipment. Furthermore, observational documentary stresses non-intervention, as filmmakers objectively observe indirect speech, candidness in the form of long takes, and create a world out of historical reality not fabricated with
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