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Monday, July 29, 2013

August Film Club: Documentary #1

Hey folks!  Riding the tonal wave created in Restrepo, we will be moving on to a film that is possibly even more serious than the last.  For our first August documentary, we will be watching Werner Herzog's harrowing descent into the world of capital punishment in his deeply moving and astounding film:  Into the Abyss.
Into the Abyss is a documentary film written and directed by Werner Herzog about two men convicted of a triple homicide which occurred in Conroe, Texas.  The film profiles Michael Perry, a man on death row convicted of murdering Sandra Stotler, a fifty-year-old nurse of German descent.  He was suspected, but never charged, in two other murders which occurred in Conroe, Texas, with his accomplice Jason Burkett.  Perry was convicted eight years earlier of the October 2001 murder, apparently committed in order to steal a car for a joyride.  Perry denies that he was responsible for the killings, blaming Burkett (also appearing the in film) who was convicted of the other two murders.  Burkett, who received a lesser life sentence for his involvement, likewise blames Perry.  Perry's final interviews for the film were recorded only 8 days before his execution on July 1, 2010.  The film also includes interviews with victims' families and law enforcement officers.  The film does not focus on Perry's guilt or innocence, and has a minimal amount of narration, with Herzog, unlike in many of his films, never appearing onscreen.

The film received generally positive reviews, currently holding a 91% certified fresh rating on out 101 critical reviews.

This is what I wrote immediately after watching the film for the first time:  "Into the Abyss, here is a sad, moving unbiased look at the death penalty; those involved in the crimes, the families of the victims, the guards, the chaplains, and the perpetrators themselves.  Though opposed to the death penalty, Herzog has no agenda, he simply lets them tell their stories, lets us reflect on the events that have transpired, and on their lives, and lets us have a glimpse into it all.  The "abyss" seems to refer less to capital punishment and more to the depths of pain and suffering human beings not only deal to one another but also endure."

We will be watching this wonderfully made film Thursday, August 15th at 6:15pm, hope to see you all there!

Here's the trailer:

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