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The Barrel of a Gun (2010)

In 1981, black journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of the murder of white Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. More than 25 years later, the case continues to spark controversy... See full summary »

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A fictional account about a man who is the first to be sentenced by a state court to be surgically castrated for raping a woman.

Director: Tigre Hill
Stars: Robert Anu-Hubbard, Jenice Armstrong, Stu Bykofsky
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Credited cast:
Mumia Abu-Jamal ...
(archive footage)
Pam Africa
James Binns
Maureen Faulkner
Joseph J. McGill
Huey P. Newton ...
(archive footage)
Helen Prejean
Edward Rendell
Joey Vento
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Storyline

In 1981, black journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of the murder of white Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. More than 25 years later, the case continues to spark controversy around the world, inspiring documentaries, books and intense debate. as the world's most celebrated death row inmate keeps his silence on his version of what actually happened in the middle of cold December night on a dark Philadelphia street. Written by Jennifer Treichler

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21 September 2010 (USA)  »

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One of the best documentaries I have ever seen
31 July 2014 | by See all my reviews

Due to IMDb's word count limitations I can only post an abridged version of my review. You can read my full review at http://r5- 4m.blogspot.com/2014/07/my-full-review-of-barrel-of-gun.html

Three viewings later I am still digesting the impact of this movie. It is brilliant on many levels. I want to give a thoughtful analysis though instead of just saying it is one of the best documentaries I've ever seen without explaining why.

On a purely technical film school level the production, narrative, and scene placement is excellent. The narrative flows very well. The soundtrack fits each scene perfectly and it doesn't overuse any music in a distracting way. There was absolutely not one second of the film that was boring. There was no pointless filler. As far as the running time it didn't feel too short or too long which is actually surprising because while watching it I really didn't want it to end. Its a little bit of a conundrum because it was like being presented a good meal with everything I would want. It wasn't missing anything and nothing was shorted. But it was just so good I wanted to come back for seconds.

The most important thing I can say about this documentary is that it deserves to exist. Many documentaries just rehash the basic facts without adding anything new to the documentary's subject matter. The Barrel of a Gun doesn't focus on rehashing the standard debating points about this case. It does go over the basic facts of the crime, as testified to in trial, but than shifts focus to providing a rich historical context to this case that has often been lost to those of us who didn't grow up in Philadelphia in the late 70's/early 80's. One doesn't need to come to this film with an in depth knowledge of the case to be able to understand the film.

Tigre Hill makes a solid case that Mumia's revolutionary activism, combined with his personal frustrations, led him to brutally murder Danny Faulkner. His research is intensive, his facts are sound and his journalistic integrity is flawless.

If one looks at the film objectively it becomes abundantly clear that Tigre Hill went out of his way to keep the film unbiased. Tigre interviewed subjects on both sides of the argument in a non confrontational way that allowed them to express their points of view. He didn't set anyone up to look foolish though a few ended up looking that way once they started talking.

Mumia's Supporters will try to argue that this film is dishonest and one sided because it doesn't indulge their imaginative perspectives on the facts of the case. This is extremely ironic because those words describe ALL of the Pro-Mumia documentaries. As it stands this film shows commentary from both sides equally while adhering strictly to proved facts. Unfortunately for Jamal the actual facts make it pretty clear that he is guilty.

Personally I think Tigre showed incredible restraint with some of his interviews. There were quite a few times that I wanted to smack some common sense into a few people's heads. There were a few questions that were left open-ended but that can only spark discussion which is a good thing.


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