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Ambassador Rachel Khoo about 'In Your Arms'

Imagine this scenario: you suffer from a debilitating illness and you have lost almost all motor skills. As the days go by, you feel trapped in your own body and feel that your existence is somewhat arbitrary- that you have no reason to keep on living. If you had the opportunity to end your life, would you take it? 

The topic of assisted suicide is not an easy one to discuss, and the ethical perspective of it is a heavily debated subject. With the recent controversial Dutch documentary Levenseindekliniek about euthanasia, the question of human rights once again comes to light; does assisted suicide or euthanasia comply with one’s right to live and to die, and human rights in general? Does one have the right to choose to end one’s own life? 

In the Danish film “In Your Arms”, director Samanou Achece Sahlstrom takes the viewers on an emotional roller coaster ride that revolves around a man’s determination to die, a woman’s search for her identity and how they both help each other in doing so. 

In this movie, Niels (Peter Plaugborg) is a 40 year old man who is dying from a slowly paralyzing condition and wishes to be brought to a euthanasia clinic in Switzerland. Even though he is a bitter hot-tempered egoist, Maria, a lonely nurse who lives with her cat (played by the wonderful Lisa Carleheld) has agreed to take on the responsibility of travelling with him by train from Copenhagen to Switzerland to grant his wish of dying. 

What I personally found refreshing in this film, was that Sahlstrom does not attempt to sugar coat the ugliness and horrors of a debilitating illness and assisted suicide, nor does he overly dramaticize them. The movie forces its viewers to deal with the reality of such a painful and tragic subject; from incontinence to sexual dysfunction, and it does not omit the dry and mundane legal and medical aspects of assisted suicide. 

As the film progressed I became more emotionally invested and I grew fonder of the characters. Maria was no longer just a boring nurse and Niels was no longer a man with an illness; the characters’ personalities unfold throughout the movie and I could not help but emphatize with them. 

As the credits of the film rolled, I could not help but imagine what would happen if I was in the same situation as Niels and Maria. In the event that I had to endure such an illness, would I have taken the same path as Niels? What would it feel like to intentionally leave my loved ones behind? Would it be selfish if I did that? If I were in Maria’s shoes, would I have embarked on this journey with a man I barely knew? This film has succeeded in providing an insight into such a heavy subject and I personally hope that I would never be in a position where I would have to make such difficult choices.

Ambassador Rachel Khoo about 'In Your Arms'

Imagine this scenario: you suffer from a debilitating illness and you have lost almost all motor skills. As the days go by, you feel trapped in your own body and that your existence is somewhat arbitrary- that you have no reason to keep on living. If you had the opportunity to end your life, would you take it? 

The topic of assisted suicide is not an easy one to discuss, and the ethical perspective of it is a heavily debated subject. With the recent controversial Dutch documentary Levenseindekliniek about euthanasia, the question of human rights once again comes to light; does assisted suicide or euthanasia comply with one’s right to live and to die, and human rights in general? Does one have the right to choose to end one’s own life? 

In the Danish film “In Your Arms”, director Samanou Achece Sahlstrom takes the viewers on an emotional roller coaster ride that revolves around a man’s determination to die, a woman’s search for her identity and how they both help each other in doing so. 

In this movie, Niels (Peter Plaugborg) is a 40 year old man who is dying from a slowly paralyzing condition and wishes to be brought to a euthanasia clinic in Switzerland. Even though he is a bitter hot-tempered egoist, Maria, a lonely nurse who lives with her cat (played by the wonderful Lisa Carleheld) has agreed to take on the responsibility of travelling with him by train from Copenhagen to Switzerland to grant his wish of dying. 

What I personally found refreshing in this film, was that Sahlstrom does not attempt to sugar coat the ugliness and horrors of a debilitating illness and assisted suicide, nor does he overly dramaticize them. The movie forces its viewers to deal with the reality of such a painful and tragic subject; from incontinence to sexual dysfunction, and it does not omit the dry and mundane legal and medical aspects of assisted suicide. 

As the film progressed I became more emotionally invested and I grew fonder of the characters. Maria was no longer just a boring nurse and Niels was no longer a man with an illness; the characters’ personalities unfold throughout the movie and I could not help but emphatize with them. 

As the credits of the film rolled, I could not help but imagine what would happen if I was in the same situation as Niels and Maria. In the event that I had to endure such an illness, would I have taken the same path as Niels? What would it feel like to intentionally leave my loved ones behind? Would it be selfish if I did that? If I were in Maria’s shoes, would I have embarked on this journey with a man I barely knew? This film has succeeded in providing an insight into such a heavy subject and I personally hope that I would never be in a position where I would have to make such difficult choices.

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ZOEKEN ALGEMEEN

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