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The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This Oscar(r)-nominated documentary is both a poignant profile of former Gov. Booth Gardner as he battles the physical and mental onslaught of Parkinson's Disease; and an exploration of the contentious debate between proponents and foes of Initiative 1000; a controversial bill championed by Gardner that put assisted suicide to a vote in the State of Washington during the 2008 election.

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Documentary director Daniel Junge hits pay dirt in the subject of his HBO film The Last Campaign of Booth Gardner. Gardner, a two-term governor of Washington State in the late '80s and early '90s, was one of the most popular politicians in the Pacific Northwest--energetic, avuncular, intensely focused. After he retired from office, hoping for an appointment in the Clinton administration that didn't come, Gardner was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. It's here that The Last Campaign of Booth Gardner takes focus. In the mid-2000s, Gardner, who had been living with the disease for many years, decided to put his considerable focus behind a statewide initiative called "Death with Dignity," which would allow a terminally ill patient with less than six months to live the ability to decide whether to live or die. If that sounds like a grim or dry subject, it's to both Junge's and Gardner's credit that The Last Campaign is absolutely captivating, and makes no judgment about the stand the former governor makes. Instead, it shows Gardner, speech slurred so that subtitles are necessary, and walking haltingly, drumming up the grassroots organizations that propelled him into political success earlier in his life. "Why should I not have control over the most important decision in my life?" he says quietly, but with force. The ballot measure went before statewide vote in 2008; only Oregon had been able to pass such a measure over the strong anti-campaign by the Catholic Church, groups of disabled citizens, and others. Throughout all the political debate, Gardner is respectful but never wavers in his commitment. The Last Campaign of Booth Gardner was nominated for an Oscar for best short documentary, and Junge's crisp, economical style feels like it's telling a much broader story than the 37 minutes the story lasts. No matter where the viewer stands on the subject, The Last Campaign of Booth Gardner is a fair-minded and gripping portrait of a warrior late in his career, bowed but not broken. --A.T. Hurley

Special Features


Product Details

  • Directors: Daniel Junge
  • Producers: Henry Ansbacher, Davis Coombe
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: HBO
  • DVD Release Date: April 26, 2011
  • Run Time: 38 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004M5HJQ2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,842 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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By Faye Girsh on October 16, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This film documents a courageous battle made by an ailing ex-governor to pass the Death with Dignity law in Washington state in 2008 which was successful thanks in part to his efforts. The irony of his efforts is that his disease, Parkinson's, would not make him eligible for a physician's help under this act since he is not terminally ill. It also clearly demonstrated what a dedicated team he had to support Governor Gardner's efforts and many of them had moving stories and lived with legacies of a bad death. It is interesting to note that he was not the only governor to support Death with Dignity. When the law passed in Oregon in 1994 it had the support of former governor Barbara Roberts and the governor who was in office when the law passed, who is a physician. It is important that people around the country understand why this struggle is so important for people. The option of a peaceful and dignified death is vital to the completion of a full life, as Governor Gardner articulated.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Unlike "How to die in Oregon", this film is more about the process of passing the law via ballot initiative. The Governor found himself taking on this challenge after a serious medical diagnosis, one that ultimately might find him in a position where using this law might come into play for him.

As both a fan of politics and an advocate for laws dealing with End of Life issues, I enjoyed this short documentary. I do wish it had been longer with perhaps more follow up on those who used the law after it passed.
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