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Film / The Sea Inside

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"Only time, and the evolution of consciences, will decide one day if my request was reasonable, or not."
Ramón Sampedronote 

The Sea Inside (Mar Adentro) is a 2004 Spanish film directed by Alejandro Amenábar, and starring Javier Bardem.

The film opens with the arrival of Julia (Belén Rueda), a lawyer, at the seaside home of Ramón Sampedro (Bardem). Ramón is a quadriplegic, having broken his neck as a result of a diving accident nearly 28 years before. Ramón has no further interest in life and wants to die, but he is physically incapable of killing himself due to his injury; as there is no legislation providing for assisted suicide, anyone helping him risks being a target of murder prosecution. A legal battle ensues as Ramón seeks help to end his life on his own terms. Meanwhile, Julia has her own major health problems, which deepen her sympathy for Ramón's plight.

No covered spoilers below so read at your own risk.

Compare The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.


  • Artistic License – History:
    • Father Luis de Moya, basis of Father Francisco, claimed that the movie misrepresented severely his relationship with Ramón and the attempt to meet him in his home. He said they wrote and talked to each other on the phone before he arranged to drop by during a visit to Galicia, but he never made it out of the car due to the stairs and the fact that nobody was home with Ramón at the time. In the movie, this is Played for Laughs as Father Francisco trying to force his way into the house and ending in a yelling match with Ramón over the stairs.
    • Laura Palmés, the basis of Julia, was a journalist who helped Ramón Sampedro write and publish his book Cartas desde el Infierno ("Letters from Hell"), not a lawyer defending his case to die in court.
  • Based on a True Story: The movie is based on the article Morir para vivir ("Dying to live") by journalist Laura Palmés, who visited the real Ramón Sampedro and is the basis of Julia.
  • Composite Character: Julia, in the sense that her basis wasn't Ramón's lawyer, though he also had lawyers when he made his case, obviously.
  • Cruel Mercy: Ramón broke his neck after jumping into shallow water and was left to drown, but a friend pulled him out and saved his life in the nick of time. He then spends the next 28 years as a quadriplegic, pleading to be killed without success.
  • Downer Ending: After Ramón kills himself, Julia has another stroke that leaves her with brain damage and unable to remember him.
  • Driven to Suicide: Technically the Backstory in the film, as the entire thing is about Ramón demanding his right to die and eventually achieving so.
  • Everybody Did It: Enforced yet also Subverted. After Ramón loses his legal battle, anyone who assists him in killing himself could be subject to prosecution. So he deliberately sets it up so different people do single necessary tasks that are not illegal in themselves - purchasing cyanide, mixing it with water, setting it by his bedside in a glass. Furthermore, he shoots a video describing the process and his own death to make it completely evident that nobody is to blame for his death except himself.
  • Epic Fail: Father Francisco's attempt to visit Ramón and convince him to not kill himself end with them awkwardly talking through Francisco's assistant when not yelling at each other over the stairs, as Francisco's chair does not fit through, nor can Ramón come down.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Not only is Ramon unafraid to die, he sets up a video camera and narrates his own death by potassium cyanide.
  • Flashback: To Ramón's diving accident.
  • Foil: Julia and Father Francisco to Ramón.
    • Julia has a degenerative disease that leaves her wheelchair-bound but can still go outside, unlike Ramón, yet also eventually takes her mind and memories, unlike Ramón. She's angry when she hears Ramón talking about sending her girlfriend away after the accident, as she takes it for an implication that invalids cannot love or should not be loved. But she also supports his decision and right to die in his own terms.
    • Father Francisco is also a long time quadriplegic following an accident, but is religious and an activist against euthanasia who tries to convince Ramón to keep on living.
  • Hard-Work Montage: A brief one shows Julia going through rehab after suffering a stroke that impairs her legs. The hard work is unsuccessful, however, and she spends the rest of the movie in a chair.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Ramón's problem in a nutshell. As he points out, suicide by one's own hand is not illegal, successful or not. In his final video he tells the establishment how much he resents having to kill himself in secret like a criminal.
  • Imagine Spot:
    • One scene has Ramón getting out of bed. He goes into the hallway, takes a running start, jumps out the window, and... flies.
    • Another has him imagining getting out of bed and passionately kissing Julia.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Played with, in that while Ramón is inspiring in a way, his wish is to die.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Ramón says that he had a girlfriend before the accident. She visited him in the hospital sometimes, until he told her to go away, because he was no longer able to love her.
  • The Ken Burns Effect: As Julia looks over old photos of Ramón before his accident.
  • Like a Son to Me: Ramón tries to tell his nephew Javier this by showing Javier a poem, written by Ramón to the son he never had, which is dedicated to Javier. Javier, who isn't too bright, doesn't get it.
  • Love Triangle: A decidedly odd one between quadriplegic Ramón, wheelchair user Julia, and Ramon's able-bodied admirer Rosa.
  • Match Cut:
    • From Julia reclining her airplane seat on the flight home, to Ramón being reclined in his bed.
    • From Julia pressing a button on her tape recorder as Ramón tells his story, to her pressing a button again back in her home as she listens to the recording.
    • From Julia and Ramón kissing in an Imagine Spot to a nearly identical shot of them kissing in real life.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Julia's arrival at Ramón's home sets up the exposition of Ramón's backstory and present situation.
  • The Nothing After Death: What Ramón believes is waiting for him, after Rosa asks him to make her a sign from the grave in case there's life after death.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Ramón's elderly father claims that the only thing worse than losing a child is having one who wants to die. Ramón's real life family claimed that the idea of his father outliving him was the only that made Ramón hesitate about killing himself, and went as far as accussing his friends of convincing him to not wait for his father's death first.
  • Single Tear: From Julia as she looks at the photos of Ramón's pre-accident life.
  • Symbolic Serene Submersion: In the flashback showing the accident, Ramón is shown floating limp below the surface.
    Julia: Were you left unconscious?
    Ramon: No, I was just there ... face down. Floating. You know, it's true what they say about those that are about to die, that all of a sudden you get to see the most important moments of your life. That happened to me.
  • Video Credits: Of all the main players at the end.

Alternative Title(s): Mar Adentro