Essay on How to Die in Oregon

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How to Die in Oregon
Portland, USA, 107 Min., 3/13/12 9PM (Watched online) How to Die in Oregon is an emotionally charged, and intimate exploration of the controversial “Death with Dignity” Law passed in the state of Oregon in 1994. How to Die in Oregon received the Grand Jury Prize in the U. S. Documentary Competition at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, along with other countless accolades, and is currently available as an HBO Original Film. In his film, filmmaker Peter Richardson, employs the observational mode of documentary to witness how patients families and friends grapple with the legal option of physician assisted suicide. In exploring the complexities surrounding this topic, Richardson interviews doctors on both sides of
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Observational documentary relies on its “fly on the wall” approach to capture revealing moments that are representative of reality, and convey the necessary information without involving fabricated or non-real life scenarios. Richardson remains off-screen during the entire movie, while his subjects are the driving force of his exploration. The result of being non-participatory ultimately makes the film more powerful. Richardson’s subjects carry the film, providing it with plenty of emotional fodder. Had the film been more reflexive in documenting 54-year-old female, Cody Curtis, planning out her death, Richardson would have lost the seamless roller coaster ride of emotions that her story creates. If he had been more reflexive or participatory with his approach, Curtis’ story would have lost its rawness, as well as felt contrived. Instead, Richardson documents footage that even family members admitted they felt uncomfortable being captured.
3) The effectiveness of Richardson’s film is definitely the result of it being observational in nature. He not only explores the affect of the “Death with Dignity” Law in Oregon, but also promulgates the subject of death. The success of his film, is intimately tied with his goal of simply exploring and observing a subject. A film on this subject could easily turn out drastically different and much more subjective, if not possibly insulting. To better