Into the Abyss

Into the Abyss

DVD - 2012
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In his fascinating exploration of a triple homicide case iin Conroe, Texas, master filmmaker Werner Herzog probes the human psyche to explore why people kill, and why a state kills. As he's so often done before, Herzog's investigation unveils layers of humanity, making an enlightening trip out of ominous territory.
Publisher: New York : IFC Films, c2012
ISBN: 9780788614699
Branch Call Number: DVD 364.152 In
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (107 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in


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Oct 21, 2018

This is an important film. It's a conversation that we should all be having. Is it ever OK to kill someone? What if it's the state putting a murderer to death? Some murderers are put to death, others are not. How do we draw the line? The crimes are horrible. No one is disputing that fact. But isn't state-sponsored killing also its own brand of horror? I would say yes to putting an end to capital punishment. Filmmaker Werner Herzog puts himself into his films, so sometimes objectivity gets obscured, but at least he's open about it. He introduces us to two young men involved in a triple homicide - a homicide that began over the desire to steal a car. Michael is on Death Row for his involvement. Jason has got a few decades before he is eligible for parole. Herzog interviews the two in prison and tries to get at why all this came to be. It's clear that poverty or near poverty has played a role as has lack of education (which go hand in hand). Michael's dad, a sympathetic man, is in prison himself for another matter. He blames himself for what has befallen his son. Jason is being helped with his legal matters by a woman who believes in him totally. We meet the woman who experienced hell when her mother and brother were killed and feels haunted forever by the experience. Herzog introduces us to a professional executioner and learn the toll such a job has on a person. The film opens with Herzog interviewing a priest who is driven to tears when talking about his role in the death chamber. Herzog peels back the layers of the onion and shows us all who are affected by the process I've been a fan of Herzog and his documentaries since I discovered his work in the 1990's. He is not afraid to explore the darker side of humanity and society. The end of the film offers a glimmer of hope, but, in essence, Herzog says it is up to us to make a change.

Jun 08, 2017

A very well done documentary about a murder in Texas involving two men. One of the men is facing the death penalty. The other man is serving a prison term. His father is also in prison and is interviewed. Another member of the same family is in prison as well. How sad that a father and his two sons all spend time in a Texas prison. I found the interview of the Captain of the death squad especially compelling. The interviews include the daughter/sister of two of the murdered people. The emotional pain inflicted by this horrible act of murder goes on and on. I found I had very conflicting feelings about the death penalty.

Jan 04, 2017

This is a 107-minute documentary written and directed by Werner Herzog about two men convicted of a triple homicide which occurred in Conroe, Texas.
Michael Perry received a death sentence for the crime.
He was 18 when he committed a crime.
The film probes the human psyche to explore why people kill and why a state kills through intimate conversations with those involved, including 28-year-old death row inmate Michael Perry who was scheduled to die within eight days of appearing on-screen.
The inquiries also extend to the families of the victim and perpetrators as well as a state executioner and a pastor who've been with death row prisoners as they've taken their final breaths.
You'll get a glimpse of hidden layers of humanity.
It is a profoundly thought-provoking documentary.

Aug 03, 2016

Relying on crime scene footage and police interviews to even the playing field somewhat (the murders really were horrific) as well as a darkly moving orchestral score, Herzog wisely refrains from any personal soliloquies aimed at swaying his audience. Deeply compassionate—you can tell he had more than a director’s interest in the subject matter—yet meticulously clinical as harsh lighting glares down on an execution gurney’s restraining straps, this is quintessential documentary filmmaking.

Jul 02, 2016

A slow - far too slow - film about murderous thieves, their execution and their victims' families. A bit boring.

Apr 30, 2015

I didn’t care for this documentary. Hard to feel compassionate when the characters are so white trash and are guilty for what they did. Could have been better.

Aug 07, 2014

Another great documentary by Herzog.

Jun 23, 2014

Worth watching as a piece of the picture. I found the young man who did not get a death sentence the most creepy - he wants 50 children and to be a father when he wont be out until 2041???!!!! The girlfriend who became his wife creeped me out also. Very sad - tragic death - no one should have to die to steal an automobile -- that is just dumb. Had they thought about covering their faces and taking the car?? Did they really think at all?

Feb 21, 2013

I was most affected by the humanity of the executioner who finally couldn't do it anymore and gave up his pension because he couldn't.

Jan 21, 2013

So many things to say... I was waiting for Perry and/or Burkett to show some remorse; some glint of human compassion for those poor souls who died so horribly. Nothing. Didn't happen. But then, *everyone* in prison is 'innocent', and they have to watch what they say, as it could be considered incriminating, and an admission of guilt, I suppose. Perry's eyes were scary -- I saw evil in him. Not as much with Burkett, but he is where he belongs. And, oh yeah -- his "wife". His inmate groupie. What a nauseatingly pathetic individual she is. Giggling like a schoolgirl about her infatuation with an incarcerated violent convict. Absolutely stomach turning. Lonely, lonely, unstable woman. My heart goes out to Lisa Stolter-Balloun, SO much loss in her life, and she somehow finds the strength to soldier on. God bless her. So much pain. For what? A Camaro?!? Props to damaged and healing ex death row captain, Fred Allen, too, for following his heart instead of his pension. That must've been a helluva frightening move to make. Quite an affecting piece from Herzog. My 2nd of his documentaries. (My introduction to the man's work was "Cave of Forgotten Dreams", of which the subject matter was astonishing. His presentation of it, however... Well...) It definitely won't be my last.

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Jan 21, 2013

Fred Allen: "I just make sure, somebody told me about the... to live your 'dash'. And that's, really, after all this... that I went through, and quit, and everything, I heard the story, they're tellin' me "live your dash". How do you, how are you gonna "live your dash"? And I didn't understand, what are you talkin' 'bout, "dash"? It's on your tombstone. You got your birthdate, and the day that you's (sic) deceased, and you got that little dash in the middle. That's your life, right there. That's your, that's everything from the time you was born, and the time you die. How are you gonna live your dash? And that's where I'm at now. I'm gonna live... my dash, and make sure that everything... Try to make everything right for the family -- everybody. Hold still and... watch the birds."


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