Up 403 this week

Dead Man Walking (1995)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  2 February 1996 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.6/10 from 70,489 users   Metascore: 80/100
Reviews: 187 user | 76 critic | 26 from Metacritic.com

A nun, while comforting a convicted killer on death row, empathizes with both the killer and his victim's families.



(book) (as Sister Helen Prejean C.S.J.) ,
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

Won 1 Oscar. Another 20 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Adventure | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

An Arkansas waitress and a housewife shoot a rapist and take off in a '66 Thunderbird.

Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, Harvey Keitel
I Am Sam (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A mentally handicapped man fights for custody of his 7-year-old daughter, and in the process teaches his cold hearted lawyer the value of love and family.

Director: Jessie Nelson
Stars: Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dakota Fanning
Mystic River (2003)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

With a childhood tragedy that overshadowed their lives, three men are reunited by circumstance when one has a family tragedy.

Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon
The Client (1994)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A young boy who witnessed the suicide of a mafia lawyer hires an attorney to protect him when the district attorney tries to use him to take down a mob family.

Director: Joel Schumacher
Stars: Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones, Brad Renfro
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Ben Sanderson, an alcoholic Hollywood screenwriter who lost everything because of his drinking, arrives in Las Vegas to drink himself to death. There, he meets and forms an uneasy friendship and non-interference pact with prostitute Sera.

Director: Mike Figgis
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Elisabeth Shue, Julian Sands
Milk I (2008)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

The story of Harvey Milk, and his struggles as an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California's first openly gay elected official.

Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A young lawyer defends a black man accused of murdering two men who raped his 10-year-old daughter, sparking a rebirth of the K.K.K.

Director: Joel Schumacher
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson
21 Grams (2003)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A freak accident brings together a critically ill mathematician, a grieving mother, and a born-again ex-con.

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Stars: Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro, Naomi Watts
Sleepers (1996)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

After a prank goes disastrously wrong, a group of boys are sent to a detention center where they are brutalized; over 10 years later, they get their chance for revenge.

Director: Barry Levinson
Stars: Robert De Niro, Kevin Bacon, Brad Pitt
Traffic (2000)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A conservative judge is appointed by the President to spearhead America's escalating war against drugs, only to discover that his teenage daughter is a crack addict. Two DEA agents protect an informant. A jailed drug baron's wife attempts to carry on the family business.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: Michael Douglas, Benicio Del Toro, Catherine Zeta-Jones
Cape Fear (1991)
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A convicted rapist, released from prison after serving a fourteen-year sentence, stalks the family of the lawyer who originally defended him.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange
Philadelphia (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

When a man with AIDS is fired by his law firm because of his condition, he hires a homophobic small time lawyer as the only willing advocate for a wrongful dismissal suit.

Director: Jonathan Demme
Stars: Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Roberta Maxwell


Cast overview, first billed only:
Helen's Mother
Chaplain Farley
Sister Colleen
Barton Heyman ...
Captain Beliveau
Sgt. Neal Trapp
Warden Hartman
Ray Aranha ...
Luis Montoya
Guy Gilardi


A convicted murderer on Death Row and the nun who befriends him. Through the portrayal of finely drawn characters and their interactions as the days, hours, and minutes tick down to the condemned man's execution, powerful emotions are unleashed. While Matthew Poncelet and Sister Prejean desperately try to gain a stay of execution from the governor or the courts, scenes are intercut from the brutal crime, gradually revealing the truth about the events that transpired. In addition to her temporal help, the nun also tries to reach out spiritually and assist as a guide to salvation. Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for a depiction of a rape and murder | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

2 February 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La dernière marche  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$11,000,000 (estimated)


£2,000,433 (UK) (19 April 1996)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The title "Dead Man Walking" is a slang term used by prison guards when escorting death row prisoners from their cells to the execution chambers. See more »


While Louisiana's lethal injection gurney is capable of being put in an upright position, inmates are only strapped to it when it is down. See more »


State trooper: I never gave a ticket to a nun before. I gave a ticket to a guy from the IRS one time. Got audited the next year. I'll tell you what, this time I'll let this one slide, but keep your speed down, yeah?
See more »

Crazy Credits

This Film Was Edited On Old Fashioned Machines. This credit was inspired by John Ottman, editor of 'The Usual Suspects'. Ottman had wanted to put "edited on a piece of s*** Steenbeck" at the end of his movie, but settled for the more subtle "Edited on film". Tim Robbins heard about this, and decided to put his own variation of the line on the credits of 'Dead Man Walking.' See more »


Referenced in NCIS: Twisted Sister (2006) See more »


In Your Mind
Performed & Written by Johnny Cash
Produced by Ry Cooder
Johnny Cash courtesy of American Recordings
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Dead Man's Last Words
12 November 2008 | by (Fraggle Rock) – See all my reviews

Tim Robbins's 'Dead Man Walking' is a brave piece of cinema. Though the film is about a man on death row and a nun's struggle to help him, I liked how he presented both sides of the central theme of capital punishment. This isn't a preachy film about capital punishment being wrong or right as I doubt one's opinion would change on that after watching the movie. But, it's more of a subtle movie that tells the story of two people who form an unlikely friendship.

This couldn't have been an easy film to make yet he manages to pull it off. Poncelet is a ruthless murderer and in no way does Robbins condone what he has done but he and actor Sean Penn manage to win Poncelet the viewer's sympathy. The execution is terrific. The last scene particularly stands out. We see, in flashback, what had happened while Poncelet meets his ultimate fate. We see how he and Helen make the final connection, we see remorse in his eyes, we see him dying a slow death and at the same time the horror of the crime is exposed to us. We know that what he did is unforgivable but he finally took responsibility for that which allows us to see him as a human being rather than a ruthless killer. This also makes the whole tragedy more astonishing because you just ponder, like Sister Helen, on how such a normal human being commit such a heinous deed?

Both Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon deliver powerful performances. We pretty much see most of the film from Helen's point of view. Sarandon clearly has put a lot of heart into the role as she skillfully downplays her part showing tremendous depth and pathos. Sean Penn plays his difficult complex character with ease. The supporting cast do well (watch out for a young Jack Black and Peter Sarsgaard).

The score is mesmerizing, especially the Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan tracks. I also felt that sense of isolation that was brought out in the prison scenes. The terrific writing grips the viewer's attention right from the start. Even though we can predict Poncelet's fate, we are drawn into the fascinating transforming journey of these two intriguing characters.

31 of 35 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Thank god for the death penalty! uncrules30
Revenge or Forgiveness? anasuet1
Are we supposed to feel sorry... JoesDreaming
Bad acting or bad directing? Picasner
1996 best actrees OSCAR goes to... abril1088
Discuss Dead Man Walking (1995) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: