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How to Die in Oregon

187 customer reviews

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(Feb 14, 2012)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Product Description

In 1994, Oregon became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. As a result, any individual whom two physicians diagnose as having less than six months to live can lawfully request a fatal dose of barbiturate to end his or her life. Since 1994, more than 500 Oregonians have taken their mortality into their own hands.

In HOW TO DIE IN OREGON, filmmaker Peter Richardson gently enters the lives of the terminally ill as they consider whether and when to end their lives by lethal overdose. At the heart of the film are the patients themselves, their families and friends, as they grapple with the legal option they are allowed in Oregon. Through their stories, Richardson examines both sides of this complex, emotionally charged issue. What emerges is a life-affirming, staggeringly powerful portrait of what it means to die with dignity.

Special Features

  • Extended Footage
  • Stories Not Shown in the Film


HOW TO DIE IN OREGON will likely be one of the most historically significant documentaries of this still-young decade. --Chicago Sun Times

At Sundance, there are buzz movies, and then there are the ones that everyone clears a space around and discusses in hushed tones. HOW TO DIE IN OREGON is one of those. --The Boston Globe

Aptly harrowing, but inspiring as well…exquisite. --Variety

Product Details

  • Actors: Various
  • Directors: Peter Richardson
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: February 14, 2012
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (187 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,482 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
With its controversial subject matter, Peter Richardson's "How to Die in Oregon" is likely to have its detractors sight unseen. That's unfortunate because this documentary does a fine job of illustrating personal stories in an effective and affecting way as opposed to being an overt political diatribe. While the film's sensibilities and sentiments are certainly not concealed, there is much to recommend this presentation even if you do not agree with Oregon's Death with Dignity Act. It places a number of people who have participated in (or wanted to) the program center stage to share their tales and these heartfelt confessions will elicit your empathy and understanding. That, in itself, is the primary selling point of "How to Die in Oregon." Despite your views, these stories are relatable, courageous, and thought-provoking. Both harrowing and heartfelt, the movie also manages to celebrate life. These are NOT people who want to die, they want to live. It is an extremely important topic handled in a very sensitive manner.

The film displays an even hand in tackling a complicated issue. The Death With Dignity Act is a progressive policy that permits doctors to prescribe a treatment that allows a patient the means to end their own life should their medical status become unbearable. It is not considered assisted suicide (which put Jack Kevorkian in jail) as the subjects must be able to physically accomplish the deed without someone administering it to them. The film introduces advocates, volunteers, and patients of varying positions and viewpoints. Some opt to go through with Death With Dignity, some do not, some become incapacitated and are unable to do so. Richardson has intimate access to these subjects but the film always seems respectful of what it is showing us.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Diana De Avila TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 25, 2011
Format: DVD
No matter what your moral leanings are on physician-assisted suicide, "How to Die in Oregon" will give you an angle on the issue that shows grace and compassion. It's hard to imagine a film that takes on this hot-button issue and does not evoke anger, anxiety or doubt. Somehow the producer has helped the viewer to avoid the negative and raw emotions and find a place of empathy and resignation.

There is no fanfare in death and dying and the issue in this film is not treated with drama and stigma. Much a part of living, death is dealt with lovingly and respectfully. Those individuals featured in "How to Die in Oregon" who let us into the most intimate parts and decisions of their lives (especially Cody Curtis) leave us understanding quality of life just a little bit better.

Whether you believe in Oregon's historic "Death with Dignity Act" or flatly oppose it ... watch this film to gain a little more empathy and understanding. It is my hope that this film is watched, discussed and embraced by more people. This is an issue that needs to be broached more than ever these days as medical advances continue that allow for length of life without true quality.

5 stars for a very touching, thoughtful an poignant film.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Michael Harbour on December 15, 2011
Format: DVD
A masterful, sensitive, powerful documentary about a difficult subject. Peter Richardson shows how truly great a thoughtful, compassionate documentary can be. Quite a contrast to the sort of fear-mongering, hectoring, histrionics, and rabble-rousing you've come to expect in recent popular documentaries. Whatever Richardson turns his attention to next, he's got my attention already.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By M. Leach on June 3, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant Video Verified Purchase
Death is shunned in our society. We do everything to avoid it. And yet, it is as akin to life as life itself, and is a part of the experience that can be one of our greatest teachers. Death with dignity is not about killing people or violating universal free will--in fact it is about bringing humanity back to death. Billions of dollars and millions of hours of pain are spent in keeping people alive that are ready to go. Only an individual knows when that time is, and with proper planning and documentation, Oregon has provided a powerful statement and practice for those who would rather save themselves the unnecessary pain and suffering, and that of their families, as well as the financial atrocities that can occur in prolonged intensive need terminal illness. Making friends with death as a natural process not be feared helps us to live our lives fully, recognizing the preciousness of each moment--for nothing is guaranteed.

The poignance of Cody Curtis's story in this excellent documentary, and of the wife of a husband with ALS, moved me to tears. This shows the first hand struggles and humanity of real people facing death.

I appreciate the continued efforts that Oregonians have made to stay dedicated to human rights and encourage everyone to see this film.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ashley Partin on January 27, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant Video Verified Purchase
This was the second saddest documentary I've ever seen, behind Dear Zachary. I heaved and sobbed at the end. I fully support the Death with Dignity act, as someone who worked in the death industry for five years. I've seen terrible suffering, both from the terminally ill who did everything they could to survive and the terminally ill who took it upon themselves to check out early (and usually it wasn't in a peaceful way like the medicine they take in this film). I really respect the families who allowed a camera crew to record such an intimate, private event. I think it presented an irrefutable argument on the side of doctor-assisted suicide. No one should be forced to suffer if death is inevitable. I hope the rest of the country is able to catch up with Oregon's progressive law some day.
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