This is the most powerful documentary I have ever seen. To anyone thinking that a deathbed scene is a peaceful serene experience surrounded by loved ones, think again having seen this.
It is haunting, sad and empowering to watch five people (having agreed with the film maker, Allan King, to have their last moments captured for posterity so that others might be enlightened to the death experience)die over the the time frame of a few weeks.
Some of the scenes are almost unwatchable, the terrible sounds of the last few hours of breathing, the sadness (for the viewer) of most of these courageous participants dying alone apart from the camera and sound technicians.
The most beautiful death scene was a gay man, his partner and parents all loving him to "the other side." He had been resigned to death, wanted it, and yet his body struggled to stay alive. I am still haunted by it, still trying to formulate thoughts on how these deaths in the film have affected me as these people were so real and vibrant and even funny.
Brilliant, brave film-making from Allan King whose previous documentaries I have also seen and recommend. 10 out of 10. Some films you see and are never the same again. All films should be like this.
This film is about the experience of dying. Five terminal patients in a Palliative Care Unit at Toronto's Grace Hospital share the last days of their lives and deaths with a film crew, having already given prior consent. They do so in the hope that their experience will be useful to the audience in managing its own fear of dying and death. Their families, friends and staff share in the task. Without narration or interviews, the camera simply and intimately observes the events that occur over the course of fourteen weeks as five people come face to face with the doorway through which we all must pass. While some pass suddenly, for others the process is unpredictable. Several die alone. The film traces equally the profound humanity, generosity and sensitivity of the staff at the hospital: with great gentleness and understanding they accompany each of the patients to their final moments. King's choice of subjects is equally moving: while the age of the individuals is hard to guess, most seem to be quite elderly, although ravages of their respective illnesses make it difficult to be sure: an Italian-Canadian grandmother, a stoic woman whose entire family has predeceased her, a former motorcycle gang member, a gay man, whose partner and mother and father comfort each other. Both the film and the hospital's staff allow every one of them to be themselves to the best of their ability and this aspect is one of the film's most moving qualities. It is a classic among the few documentaries that attempt to accompany individuals over their last days.
Uploaded by: FREEMAN