28 November 2011

Into the Abyss

Written and Directed by: Werner Herzog
Full credits at IMDb

Werner Herzog's last few documentaries have taken him to exotic locales: the south of France, Antarctica, the Alaskan wilderness. But his latest travels to perhaps the most unusual yet—rural Texas, where he explores a murder case and crafts a sober, persuasive, and serendipitously timed argument against the death penalty. (We are all Troy Davis, even Herzog.) In 2010, Michael Perry was executed for a triple murder he committed a decade earlier in the city of Conroe for the sake of stealing a Camaro. (His accomplice, Jason Burkett, received a life sentence.) Herzog investigates this messy, petty, senseless true-crime story and fills it in with lurid and poignant details, wielding his talent as a probing and insightful interviewer in conversations with the families and friends of both the victims and the killers; he tours the town, genuinely interested in its inhabitants and their colloquialisms, like "balls to the wall."

But Herzog's never condescending: he highlights our shared humanity, even Perry's—who, when the director interviews him just days before he would be executed, smiles boyishly and avers his innocence...

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