Trailer: Me Before You
Oftentimes you find love where you least expect it. Sometimes it takes you where you never expected to go…
May 3, 2016
Australian screenings of Me Before You, starring Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke, are being picketed by activists who have labelled it a “disability snuff movie” because they believe it suggests the disabled are better off dead.
Protesters had been urged to turn up to cinemas an hour before screenings of the movie, which also stars The Hunger Games’ Sam Claflin and which opens nationally today, wearing zombie costumes, carrying protest banners, or wearing T-shirts bearing a range of slogans that subvert the film’s “live boldly” tagline.
Protesters were urged to download print-and-wear T-shirt designs with slogans such as “Disabled lives are worth living”, “Live Boldly? We already do” and “Me Before You is a disability snuff movie”.
Emilia Clarke as Lou Clark and Sam Claflin as Will Traynor in Me Before You.
The film tells the story of Will Traynor (Claflin), who becomes paralysed after a motorcycle accident and decides his life is no longer worth living. But he delays his plans to travel to Switzerland for assisted suicide for six months, during which time he meets and falls in love with his carer, Lou Clark (Emilia Clarke).
The film has been widely criticised on a number of fronts, including the fact that it equates disability with terminal illness.
“There is a huge difference between a debilitating illness, such as brain cancer, in the end stages, and a person with a disability who is not dying,” wrote disability activist and filmmaker Dominick Evans on his blog. “You can find success, love, fulfilment even if you happen to use a wheelchair. It is not the end of the world, and these films need to stop scaring people into thinking it is.”
Members of the group ‘People with Disabilities’ protest against Me Before You at the Jam Factory Village Cinemas in South Yarra on June 16, 2016. Photo: Paul Jeffers
In Australia, writer and activist Carly Findlay – who has seen the film already – has noted that viewers are being invited to cry at what happens to a disabled character played by an able-bodied actor, “yet are they crying over the barriers and discrimination actually disabled people face in our everyday lives? Do they know about the low employment rate and poverty experienced by so many, and what are they doing to change that?”
The English director of Me Before You, Thea Sharrock, has professed to surprise at the negative response to her movie.
“It’s a fictional story about how important the right to choose is,” director Thea Sharrock told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this month. “The message of the film is to live boldly, push yourself, don’t settle.”
Print-and-wear T-shirt designs for protests against the movie Me Before You.