In the tradition of other great documentaries (Hoop Dreams, The Thin Blue Line, etc.), the makers of "The Farm" tell a story that needs to be told by acquiring unprecedented access to their subject. In the process, they illuminate a host of issues about the penal and criminal justice systems.
The most remarkable thing about this film is how quietly and stoically the story is told. Preachiness and sensationalism are nowhere to be found. An example: one of the most difficult scenes in the film concerns a prisoner on death row. While most films treat capital punishment melodramatically, this film shows the remnants of his last meal interposed with voiceovers of his family and his fellow inmates bidding him farewell. No matter what gratification people may receive from giving 'dangerous criminals' a death sentence, the issues will always be far more complex.
Perhaps the most unforgettable scene is at a parole hearing where the hypocrisy of the review board is captured on film, as if the officials had forgotten that the camera was still on.
The Angola Penitentiary is one of the toughest, most unforgiving prisons in the United States. But it is that way because society's most monstrous assumptions have perpetuated a cycle of despair, irrationality, and ignorance. That two filmmakers could expose such qualities with a modest budget and an unflinching eye is a testament to where film can take us.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?