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Facing Death

Facing Death

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross devoted her life to death and dying and achieved world fame in the process. Through her strong commitment to the subject, she has done much to de-stigmatize dying and to draw attention to the treatment of the terminally ill. This remarkably intimate film was produced in 2002, when Kublerr-Ross lived secluded in the desert, and was awaiting - as she says - her own death, on the verge of the transition she researched so passionately.

Her story is a remarkable one. Born in Zurich in 1926 as a 2-pound triplet, she studied medicine in defiance of her parents' wishes and struggled for recognition as a psychiatrist in the United States. In 1969 she achieved international fame through her work with terminally ill patients in Chicago and her book On Death and Dying. This initial success was followed by countless workshops and lecture tours around the world, and the establishment of a healing center in Virginia, which was destroyed by arsonists in 1994. In the late Nineties, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross suffered a series of strokes, and finally succumbed on August 24th, 2004.

Conversations with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in Arizona form the core of the film. She looks back on her life, describes her childhood and her work, and explains how she herself faces aging and impending death. Interviews with her sisters, friends and colleagues, as well as extensive archival material provide a comprehensive look into the life and work of this extraordinary woman.

'An excellent resource [and] valuable document.'-The Bulletin of the History of Medicine

'Elisabeth Kubler-Ross has been widely recognized as one of the foremost authorities in the field of death, dying and transition for over 20 years. It might well be said that she invented this field as an area of legitimate discourse in the medical community. Her now-classic first book, 'On Death and Dying,' is today considered the master text on the subject, and is required reading in most major medical and nursing schools and graduate schools of psychiatry and theology.'- Health World Online

'Recommended! FACING DEATH serves as both a concise biography and a compelling forum for Ross's discussion of her work, bolstered by numerous interviews with close friends, colleagues, and... siblings. Never morbid or depressing... this is a powerful and thoughtful film.'- Video Librarian

'A wonderfully done film. Everything blends together to make a beautiful video and a remarkable story of a true pioneer in our field. It is a film that should be seen by all students in the field of Thanatology, all hospice volunteers and professions, medical personnel, and all those who care about the end of life. [FACING DEATH is] a work of true quality... How could he go wrong with such a remarkable subject?'- Dana G. Cable, Professor of Psychology and Thanatology, Hood College, for the Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care

'A marvelous look at the forces that shaped Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and her life's work... The strength of this film lies in its honesty. The viewer is privy to the admirers as well as the detractors, the strengths of Dr. Ross as well as her foibles, and with a balanced presentation is then left to draw her own conclusions about this important teacher in the arena of death and dying.'- Journal of Psychosocial Oncology

'Highly Recommended!'- Kleine Zeitung (Austria)


Main credits

Haupt, Stefan (film director)
Faust-Kübler, Erika (on-screen participant)
Bacher-Kübler, Eva (on-screen participant)
Imara, Mwalimu (on-screen participant)
Gordon, Audrey K. (on-screen participant)
Luethy, Frances. (on-screen participant)

Other credits

Camera, Christian Davi, John Erne, Patrick Lindemaker; editor, Stefan Kälin; music, Klaus Wiese, Peter Landis.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Death and Dying
Family Relations
Health Care Issues
History of Science
Women's Studies


thanatology; film; video; documentary; mourning; Elisabeth Kubler-Ross; Erika Faust-Kubler; Eva Bacher-Kubler; Mwalimu Imara; Audrey K. Gordon; Marianne New; death ; dying; hospice; terminally ill; patient; Chicago; On Death and Dying; healing; healing center; Virginia; aging; medicine; psychiatry; "Facing Death"; Icarus Films

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