June 2007



Since returning to the States, I’ve kind of been on a movie kick—some mediocre (Knocked Up), and some bad (Nancy Drew). There have been some really good ones—say, for instance, “Simon.”

Simon was on show at the IU Campus last night—it’s a Dutch film focusing on two things that are “matter-of-fact” to the Dutch, yet quite controversial in the States: Gay Marriage and Euthanasia. Mind you that because it’s the Netherlands, the film doesn’t revolve around should these things be allowed but rather whether or not it was right for the characters involved.

The marriage was never really discussed, it just happened—rather the two dominate questions in the film revolved firstly around who made the decision to die, Simon or his daughter, and when Simon was going to choose to die relative to the wedding.

These are kind of heady questions—yet ones that Americans are not yet ready to discuss—American government, and the religious right, still believe that Euthanasia is morally wrong. Let me make it clear, I find it offensive that it is illegal in the case of terminally ill people. I do not want to be kept alive if all I am going to be is a lump of flesh that has trouble breathing without the aid of multiple machines: I want to die with dignity—something that The Netherlands (and Oregon, I believe) understands.

It was a very personal decision in the film: Simon struggled with it and the possible effects on his friends and children. How were all these people going to remember him: a strong and vibrant part of the community, or somebody who couldn’t make it to the toilet in time? For Simon, it was obvious: he wanted to be remembered as a strong and vibrant part of the community and to exit life on his own terms.

A couple weeks after the wedding Simon had his last day—and instead of being a tragic day, it was a happy day. On his own term there was one last day of celebrating life—picnic on the beach, happy conversation, and communal time—before it was time.

It ended up being a very thoughtful and happy, so to speak, death.

Oddly I had a flashback to another film, Waking Ned Devine, in which a man was privileged enough to attend his own last second funeral, thus hearing his best friend memorialize him:

Michael O’Sullivan was my great friend. But I don’t ever remember telling him that. The words that are spoken at a funeral are spoken too late for the man who is dead. What a wonderful thing it would be to visit your own funeral. To sit at the front and hear what was said, maybe say a few things yourself. Michael and I grew old together. But at times, when we laughed, we grew young. If he was here now, if he could hear what I say, I’d congratulate him on being a great man, and thank him for being a friend.

There is something to say for attending ones own funeral and being in control of one’s death—surely it’s not an easy decision, but if the alternative is slowly and painfully dying from cancer, euthanasia isn’t such a bad choice.

I wonder if it will ever become acceptable in the States.

3 comments to Simon

  • Ed

    TQE, did you ever see a British movie titled Beautiful Thing? It is rather old around 1996 I think. I just saw it recently. It is pretty good IMHO. The London Slang is a bit hard to understand. The first hour is excellent but the last 30 minutes moves way too fast. Still, it is a great movie.

  • Sorry for not being here but was just quite busy.

    Actually I am quite pro with euthanasia coz if I were terminally ill and there is no obvious chances of recovery why stick around and wait for a miracle that rarely happens. I’d rather die peacefully than have to fight the pain until my last breathe

  • @ed: I have seen Beautiful Thing–I love it. It is an awesome movie, and I have actually gone to the pub in Greenwich that the kids go to–the one where they see the drag show.

    @chase: no problem…. I think most people, outside the USA, are probably pro-Euthanasia.