6.9/10
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20 user 4 critic

A Lesson Before Dying (1999)

PG-13 | | Drama | TV Movie 22 May 1999
In the 1940s South, an African-American man is wrongly accused of the killing of a white store owner. In his defense, his white attorney equates him with a lowly hog, to indicate that he ... See full summary »

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Writers:

(novel), (teleplay)
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Won 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 10 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Grant Wiggins
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Tante Lou
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Jefferson
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Miss Emma
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Reverend Ambrose
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Vivian Baptiste (as Lisa Arrindell Anderson)
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Edna Guidry
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Sheriff Guidry
Stuart Culpepper ...
Henri Pichot
Patty Mack ...
Inez
Von Coulter ...
Farrell Jarreau
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Clarence
Wynton Yates ...
Louis Washington
...
Irene
Cierra Meche ...
Estelle
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Storyline

In the 1940s South, an African-American man is wrongly accused of the killing of a white store owner. In his defense, his white attorney equates him with a lowly hog, to indicate that he didn't have the sense to know what he was doing. Nevertheless convicted, he is sentenced to die, but his godmother and the aunt of the local schoolteacher convince the schoolteacher to go to the convicted man's cell each day to try to reaffirm to him that he is not an animal but a man with dignity. Written by BOB STEBBINS <stebinsbob@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for a scene of violence, brief strong language and some sensuality | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

22 May 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Lesson Before Dying - Nachhilfestunden in der Todeszelle  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The poem Grant reads to the children before Farrell comes to class with news from Sheriff Guidry the 2nd time is Edgar Allen Poe's "Annabel Lee." See more »

Goofs

Jefferson's execution date is right after Easter. Yet as the schoolchildren are going to the jail for a last visit with him, there are autumn leaves on the ground. See more »

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User Reviews

 
A beautiful and honest film about holding onto one's humanity in an unjust world.
27 May 1999 | by See all my reviews

A "Lesson Before Dying" is a powerful and passionate film, so beautifully written and so beautifully acted it is one of those rare exceptions where the film adaptation is better than the book. The entire cast is wonderful, and many awards should await them all. Cycely Tyson and Irma P. Hall are amazing and moving as two women whose strength,love and dignity guide through the pain. Mehki Phifer,gives a powerful performance as Jefferson, a young man sentenced to die for a crime he did not commit. He truly brings honesty and humanity to a young man who is seen by white society as inhuman. And Don Cheadle brings compassionate and dignity to the teacher who must help Jefferson stand tall.

I can't say enough about "A Lesson Before Dying." The injustice committed will anger you, the fate of Jefferson will sadden you, but ultimately knowing these people and sharing in their lives, and seeing dignity and love rise from the ashes of a cruel and uncaring world make the anger and sadness worth it all.

This film should not be missed. And if you don't cry by the end, you better take a trip to Oz with Dorothy and the Tin Man, because you don't have a heart.


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