A Lesson Before Dying (TV Movie 1999) Poster

(1999 TV Movie)

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8/10
Required viewing if you appreciate moral values.
taslop26 June 1999
While I do not consider myself an expert in recognizing various performers, I certainly can react to good plots and to well constructed story lines. Very heartwarming to the extent that I felt obligated to try to compensate for the wrongs unfairly committed in the past. Required viewing in an American history course. A people that cares for its minorities will not condone ethnic cleansing. I certainly believe all participants of this film must feel very proud. It merits rave reviews.
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9/10
A movie which should evoke sympathy even to a bigot.
dewey224 February 2000
The story evolves around a black youth who is present during a shooting in a white owned grocery store. The owner is killed along with two black men. The young man decides to help himself to the contents of the cash register. Just as the crime is committed he is discovered and ends up being executed. The real story evolves around his feelings and those who were closest to him. The movie is done with the greatest sensitivity and understanding. The acting and directing could not be improved in showing the tragedy to both whites and blacks of the consequences of our prejudices.
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9/10
A lovely gem.
k h11 March 2001
I taped this film when it was on tv and come back to it every so often. It is very well done, superbly crafted, and the storytelling is excellent. But what keeps me watching is the performances, specifically Don Cheadles. This man is quite simply a great actor, he is where Denzel was ten years ago. Cicely Tyson remains one of our greatest assets, and the whole cast brings a sensitivity and authenticity to it that makes it sing. Worth watching with your kids, it has valuable lessons for us all.
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8/10
The Green Mile, but better
rwirtz18 August 2003
This movie brought me to tears. It was honest, upright and well executed. It plunks us right in the middle of a serious situation, a situation where there are can hardy be winners. The absolute good thing about this movie is that it's not pointing a finger; it just shows the facts. There are no supernatural interferences, except maybe the realization of a friendship, the establishment of kinship and the acceptance of reality and how to cope with it in order to change it for the better.

Great movie, it gets 8 out of 10 from me. Recommended viewing.
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10/10
A Jewel seldom found
lavunt14 August 2000
This movie is a great work, and hopefully has made it's way into our history education here in the states. The only negative I can find concerning this movie, is that such events occur in our world. Like life, the happy ending is all to often, only a barely tolerable out come to an injustice. Most times it's not even that. I vote a full board on this one, from cast and crew, to content and style
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a pretty close interpretation of the book
KHenry8526 May 2003
I was required this semester to read a book by an American author and then watch at least one movie based upon the book. I chose "A Lesson Before Dying," by Ernest J. Gaines. The book was excellent and made me cry. The movie was very close to the book, with the exception that some of the scenes orders were switched up (which did not change the meaning very much), it was missing an important, but long scene (the scene's length is probably why it was left out), and a main character was completely deleted. All in all, though, a person could learn just as many things from the movie as from the book, although I still recommend reading the book. I enjoyed watching the movie, the acting was very good. Too bad this movie couldn't make it on the big screen. There are so many lessons to be learned from the unbelievable story line.
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9/10
The impact of inhumanity and injustice, and the healing of the soul...
Peegee-321 July 2001
What a beautiful film this is! The injustice perpetrated in the South (and frequently elsewhere) against the black people in a society dominated by whites is its noble theme. But so much more. How the relationship between two men can bring strength to the one oppressed, comfort to his soul and dignity to his being has been brilliantly portrayed and performed. It's an inspiration to us all. And in that relationship there are lessons for both men. Don Cheadle as a sensitive black teacher and Phifer as the wronged prisoner are splendid and convincing. The rest of the cast is also fine. Although this is a movie to touch the heart deeply, even profoundly, it avoids striking any note of sentimentality. There are hard truths presented here...but with such humanity I was almost happy to face them.
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8/10
Strong and warm movie
MarioB19 September 1999
Seven out of ten HBO TV movie gives us what seven out of ten regular Hollywood movie can't give : a strong story. There is also a good sense of honesty in these TV productions. This one is among the best HBO I've seen in years. The story is superb and the script is very well written. Actors are also very strong. The message of this film should be known by all the people. It's also a great tearjerker!
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One of the Best TV Movies Ever
Brett Walter29 December 2002
I read the book not that long ago, and had been trying for some time to locate this HBO version for some time. I finally recieved it as a Christmas present and watched it. It was fantastic! Screenwriter Ann peacock and director Joseph Sargent did a fantastic job bring Ernest Gaines' novel to the small screen. It's worth seeking out!
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10/10
A beautiful and honest film about holding onto one's humanity in an unjust world.
harlem-227 May 1999
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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