Distributor:  Icarus Films
Length:  57 minutes
Date:  1996
Genre:  Expository
Language:  Dutch / English subtitles
Grade level: College, Adult
Color/BW:  Color
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Death On Request

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Controversial documentary records the last days - and actual death - of a Dutch man who chose euthanasia to end his suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Death On Request

This gentle but astonishing documentary records Cees de Joode, a Dutch man suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) - an incurable degenerative muscle disease better known as 'Lou Gehrig's Disease' -, as he, his wife Antoinette, and his doctor choose euthanasia to end his torment.

In 1993, it became obvious that the illness would swiftly take Cees' life. Already in a wheelchair, his legs and feet paralyzed, unable to move his right shoulder or arm, and almost incapable of speaking, Cees started a journal using his personal computer. He wrote in it 'The possibility of euthanasia has for months been a comforting thought to me. It gets me on my feet again - at least figuratively. Literally, that's totally out of the question. It helps enormously in setting my limits.' He let his doctor know that as his death approached, and his body degenerated further, he wished to choose his time to die.

DEATH ON REQUEST then chronicles the period after which Cees made this decision, the many visits his doctor paid on him and Antoinette, and the actual administration of the lethal injection. When the time comes, the doctor makes a final trip to see his patient 'with lead in his shoes.' Cees toasts their health, sips his last port, and slowly directs his wheelchair to his bed, where he will end his life peacefully, as he wished, with his wife and doctor present.

'*** [3 Stars] A discreet, tasteful, but unflinching look at the reality of [euthanasia]... This video is remarkably free of polemics and posturing. Viewers willing to confront a painful subject will find it an instructive, even moving experience. Strongly recommended.' - S. Rees, Video Librarian

'[DEATH ON REQUEST] seems certain to become an essential document in the debate on euthanasia. It is a remarkable achievement, holding the viewer in an almost unbearable intimacy with what, probably for most of us, is an almost unthinkable situation.' - Ian Mayes, The Guardian (London)

'One of the most powerful and emotionally draining pieces of television that I can recall seeing...The death, when it came, was quick, quiet, and devastating.' - Matthew Bond, The Times (London)

'[DEATH ON REQUEST] goes far beyond our expectations in dealing with euthanasia, an extremely delicate moral issue which creates world-wide controversy. It is treated with such reserve and sensitivity that it goes straight to our hearts.' - Banff Television Festival


** Silver Apple Winner, 1997 National Educational Media Network Competition
** Freddie Award Winner, 1996 International Health and Medical Films Competition
** Grand Prize Winner, 1995 Banff Television Festival


Main credits

Nederhorst, Maarten (film director)
Schenk, Lejo (film producer)
Groot, Frederik de (narrator)

Other credits

Photography, Deodaat Visser, Albert van der Wildt, Andras Hamelberg; editor, At Buursema; music, R. Veerman, Henk Jonkhart.

Distributor credits

A Video by Maarten Nederhorst

Docuseek2 subjects

Death and Dying
Other Chronic Illness
Netherlands, The

Distributor subjects

Death and Dying
Family Relations
Health Issues
Life Sciences
Western Europe


euthanasia; thanatology; amyotrophic lateral; sclerosis; Cees; de; Joode; ALS; Doctor; Patient; relationship; anesthesia; Nederhorst; Dutch; Netherlands; documentary; film; video; "Death On Request"; Icarus Films

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