7.9/10
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5 user 3 critic

Serving Life (2011)

Actor Forest Whitaker narrates the story of a group of inmate volunteers who staff their own hospice inside a maximum security prison in Louisiana where the average sentence is more than 90 years.

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Actor Forest Whitaker narrates the story of a group of inmate volunteers who staff their own hospice inside a maximum security prison in Louisiana where the average sentence is more than 90 years.

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28 July 2011 (USA)  »

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Saving One's Life While Losing It
2 December 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

As an agnostic, I was prepared for the platitudes you usually hear from the 'feel good' folks. so I was overwhelmed by the look in the eyes of the plain-talking Hospice volunteers. You only got a hint of the terrible lives they had led when you saw their mug shots. I don't know what it is in our eyes that shows our soul, but these guys had the sweet look of innocents. How that happened and they were transformed is a great mystery to me.....EXCEPT, maybe these guys knowing they were where they were going to be at the end of THEIR life caused this transformation. As they helped others die, you could see the compassion coming into their faces.

And as time passed and they witnessed the deaths of their fellow prisoners, helping them to die with dignity........you saw the changes in their lives. From blaming others, they accepted responsibility for their actions. The guy I was surprisingly most impressed with, hating authority figures as I do, was the warden. Growing up in Alabama, I am used to hypocrisy from ministers and deacons......Philistines. But this tough-eyed guy matter of factly talked about redemption for these men through their acts without any God/Jesus stuff.involved. Compassionate living. Whomsoever would save his life should lose it in service for others: my paraphrase of a Bible verse. Really punches that thought up. I could never do what these men are doing. Talk about a 180 degree change in their lives.

The point was well made, that no matter how much bravado these men had showed in their 'killing careers', here was where real bravery was called for. You see them standing vigils in the last hours of a man's life, as his eyes begin to set in the death stare. I have never done this except with my mother and grandmother, as they died after a long life 'natural deaths'. So the whole movie was an education for me, as Angola has come to mean the worst in prison conditions and in mistreatment of prisoners. Wonder if this warden is still around.

Movie should be shown to all high school seniors, especially in the spawning areas for crime, the slums.


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