7.5/10
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Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. (1999)

A cinematic portrait of the life and career of the infamous American execution device designer and holocaust denier.

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1 win & 8 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Himself (as Fred Leuchter)
Robert Jan Van Pelt ...
Himself
David Irving ...
Himself
Caroline Leuchter ...
Herself (voice)
James Roth ...
Himself - Analytical Chemist
Shelly Shapiro ...
Herself
Suzanne Tabasky ...
Herself
Ernst Zündel ...
Himself
...
Re-enactment cast
Daniel Polsby ...
Re-enactment cast
Jeff Brown ...
Re-enactment cast
Robert Duerr ...
Re-enactment cast
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Storyline

Documentary about Fred Leuchter, an engineer who became an expert on execution devices and was later hired by revisionist historian Ernst Zundel to "prove" that there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz. Leuchter published a controversial report confirming Zundel's position, which ultimately ruined his own career. Most of the footage is of Leuchter, puttering around execution facilities or chipping away at the walls of Auschwitz, but Morris also interviews various historians, associates, and neighbors. Written by ccampbell

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

14 January 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mr. Death  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$24,125 (USA) (31 December 1999)

Gross:

$495,318 (USA) (24 March 2000)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

All of the states which bought one of Leuchter's lethal injection machines have subsequently stopped using them because they were too difficult to operate and maintain. See more »

Quotes

Fred A. Leuchter Jr.: The human body is not easy to destroy and it's not east to take a life humanely and painlessly without doing a great deal of damage to the individual's body.
See more »

Connections

Featured in A Brief History of Errol Morris (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Disturbing and Often Funny
12 September 1999 | by (Boston, MA) – See all my reviews

I saw a rough cut of this documentary last year presented by Errol Morris. At this point, I had never seen an Errol Morris documentary, but I have to say I loved it. It's the story of the man who reinvented the modern electric chair and other devices to carry out capital punishment.

The first half of the film is darkly funny. The juxtaposition of images with Leuchter's descriptions makes for hilarious irony. The shots are in and of themselves wholly serious, but Leuchter himself is very comedic (whether he knows it or not).

The second half of the film evokes anger more than humor. Leuchter becomes an advocate for Holocaust denial through his scientific (?) research for a Canadian Neo-Nazi. The cut that I saw didn't have an explanation as to why Leuchter got the results that he did until a little later in the film. I though Errol Morris should have had this description as soon as the results of the tests were determined. Maybe he changed it, and maybe he didn't.

At the film's heart is, like a Greek tragedy, the story of a man whose rise to prominence is cut short by his hybris - his inability to accept that he could be wrong. As a result, a man who was once in demand by state after state is left to rot in his own misery and mistake.


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