Whose Life Is It Anyway?
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Ken Harrison is an artist that makes sculptures. One day he is involved in a car accident, and is paralyzed from his neck. All he can do is talk, and he wants to die. In hospital he make friends with some of the staff, and they support him when he goes to trial to be allowed to die.
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Ken Harrison is an artist, a sculptor, successful in his field and living with his beautiful girlfriend, when his life is changed forever by a horrible car accident. While his life was saved, Ken becomes a quadriplegic. Only able to move his shoulders and head, Ken feels helplessly out of control of his own life. His life, he says, was all in his hands, not in his head.
Six months later, as his existence is truly sinking into reality and Ken has recognized his condition is not something that will magically disappear one day, he tells his girlfriend to stop coming to the hospital and that its completely over between them. He also tells the hospital to stop their treatment, he's decided that his life should end. In an extremely powerful and poignant scene, Ken has refused the valium his doctor ordered for him, because the doctor felt he was too "riled up". The doctor injects him anyway, as Ken helplessly watches. "How dare you inject that into my body without my permission?" he asks. And I wondered, how dare he? It's a significant moment, imagine yourself as Ken impotently watching as someone does something to your very own body against your wishes.
Ken hires a lawyer, and sues the hospital for "Habeas Corpus" (literally, "give us the body"). No matter what his requests for release from the hospital and cessation of treatment, including daily dialysis, Dr. Michael Emerson (John Cassavetes) ignores them. Ken wants his treatment to stop so that he can die. Despite his desire to end his life, Ken is amiable with the staff. His funny, quirky personality has made him a favorite with the nurses and orderlies, and they are all saddened by his decision though they respect him enough to stand by him.
The question of human euthanasia is so controversial, especially after Dr. Kevorkian brought the subject out into the direct sunlight. The movie does a good job of portraying each side; Ken's personal decision to die and those around him who are morally and personally against it. It's a very touching story, one that will make you shed at least a tiny tear, even if your not prone to them. There's no sappiness or preaching getting in the way of the story. The acting, specifically Richard Dreyfuss, is terrific. It's a movie that stirs you emotionally, morally, and intellectually. Don't miss out on this great movie. Enjoy!