Thursday, February 16, 2012

Film examines the lives of death row inmates

The Berlin Film Festival features a documentary directed by Werner Herzog, Into the Abyss. The documentary will be featured in an ID Discovery series On Death Row.  The documentary and series is based the end of the lives of several death row inmates—their crimes, their last thoughts, the way they, their families, and the families of victims cope.

Condemned murderers in Texas and Florida tell their lurid life stories as interviewer Herzog tries to fathom the reasons in four disquieting 47-minute documentaries. "They manage to be engrossing, at times even with a touch of black humor, thanks to their uncanny closeness to their subjects, nearly all of whom have committed repulsive, heinous crimes," wrote The Hollywood Reporter's Deborah Young from Berlin.

Wife-strangling, nurse-burning James Barnes seems voluble, intelligent, remorseful and unmonstrous, while Hank Skinner's "wonderfully theatrical face [and] hysterical laughter make it difficult to believe he murdered the woman he lived with and her two sons." Even when faced with the inhuman -- DEA informer Linda Carty, who had a mother killed and her newborn abducted -- Herzog shows a "relentless insistence that each person be viewed, first of all, as a human."

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