Dead Man Walking
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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Dead Man Walking can be found here.

Sister Helen Prejean (Susan Sarandon) is asked by convicted killer Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn), currently on Death Row awaiting execution by lethal injection for murdering a young couple, to help him file a final appeal for a stay of execution. Aided by lawyer Hilton Barber (Robert Prosky), Sr Helen files appeal after appeal and eventually becomes Poncelet's spiritual adviser has his final week of life ticks away.

Dead Man Walking is based on the nonfiction work of the same name by Sister Helen Prejean, C.J.S. The book was adapted for the screen by American film maker Tim Robbins, who also produced and directed the movie. Robbins has subsequently written a play based on the book and made it available to schools as a project designed to foster discourse and discussion about the death penalty.

Yes. Sister Helen Prejean was a Catholic nun became a leading American advocate for the abolition of the death penalty. The character of Matthew Poncelet, however, is a fictional composite of several prisoners counseled by Prejean, including Elmo Patrick Sonnier and Robert Lee Willie.

"Dead man walking" is a phrase once used in American prisons when a man on death row was being led down the hallway to the execution room. It's believed that the term was used to warn others to get out of the way, because a person on their way to the death chamber has nothing else to lose.

He and a friend were accused of kidnapping and killing two teenagers—Hope Percy (Missy Yager) and Walter Delacroix (Peter Sarsgaard)—while they were parked on Lovers' Lane. They shot Delacroix two times in the head, raped Percy, stabbed her 17 times, and then shot her in the head, too.

At 11:50 p.m., Matthew Poncelet is led to the death chamber in cuffs and chains. Sister Helen walks behind him with her hand on his shoulder, reading from the Bible. When they reach the door of the chamber, Sr Helen is stopped from entering. She sits down in the viewing room with the relatives of the murder victims around her. At 11:54, Poncelet is harnassed to the table vertically, and two IVs are started, one in each arm. At 11:57, the curtains are opened to the viewing room. At 11:58, Poncelet is asked whether he has any last words. He apologizes to Mr Delacroix (Raymond J. Barry) for killing his son and says that he hopes his death will give the Percys some relief. "I think killing is wrong," he adds, "no matter who does it...me or you'all or your government." At 11:58:30, his table is lowered to a horizontal position, and he is turned so that he can look into the viewing room. He focuses on Sr Helen's face, the only face of love that he sees. "I love you," he says to her. "I love you," she mouths back to him. At 12:00 a.m., the injections are begun. One by the one, the six tubes of solution are emptied into his arms as flashbacks of the rape and murders are interspersed between the injections. Still staring at Sr Helen's face, Poncelet's eyes begin to close, and then it is over. A few days later, Sr Helen attends his burial and places a flower on his casket. As she hugs the Poncelet family, she notices Mr Delacroix watching from a distance. He admits to still being filled with hate, and Sr Helen suggests that, together, they could find a way out of the hate. In the final scene, Sr Helen and Mr Delacroix can be seen through a church window, kneeling together and praying.

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