A further investigation into the arrest of three teenagers convicted of killing three young boys in Arkansas who spent nearly 20 years in prison before being released after new DNA evidence indicated they may be innocent.
Damien Wayne Echols
Using state-of-the-art equipment, a group of activists, led by renowned dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, infiltrate a cove near Taijii, Japan to expose both a shocking instance of animal abuse and a serious threat to human health.
Hold still and watch the birds. Once you get up into your life like that, and once you feel good about your life, you do start watching what the birds do. What the doves are doing. The hummingbirds. My, there's so many of them.
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I just watched a documentary by the masterful filmmaker, Werner Herzog, Into the Abyss. He does what a great filmmaker can do, change your perception of an issue. The film is not the most pleasant of subjects, a triple slaying of three people, and then the ensuing death by lethal injection of one of the two teenage murderers in the state of Texas. There are many reasons why I was so affected by the film, and I watch a lot of documentaries, the first being that I related so much to the two teenagers who did the killings.
Herzog, the filmmaker, doesn't focus on the trial, rather, he focuses more on the anatomy of the crime, and the way in which each of the characters were affected. He has an amazing sense of place, just as he did with Grizzly Man,he puts the viewer directly into the film by establishing a feel of the surroundings, patiently filming poignant parts of the town where these people where from , so that one can really understand that this could be your neighborhood, your friend, your acquaintance, or even members of your own family. His interview style is unwavering and fearless, in fact, each of these people you felt trusted him completely, from the daughter whose mother was killed, to the father of one of the killers. Even the sheriff who investigated the crime ten years before, had none of the resistance that law enforcement can sometimes have in an interview like this. I'm remiss in not mentioning the interview of the Captain of the team that carried out so many of the executions in Texas, sometimes two a week, until he resigned after the execution of Karla Rae Tucker, the first woman to be executed in Texas since the Civil War. His testimony was powerful, coming from this huge man with the Texas accent, who was changed by that particular execution, and changed his view on capitol punishment, and this after doing it for ten years. He claims the execution of Karla Rae Tucker caused him an introduction to his real self, and as he says near the end of the film, "No one has the right to take another person's life, no matter the circumstances."
In Werner Herzog's film, he doesn't excuse the crimes that they committed, but he does cause the viewer to look and think about the great mountain of destruction that was built even before these two teen killers were born. The one tried to take care of the other one, by taking him in to live with him in a camper. Before that, the boy was living in the trunk of an abandoned car. I think that was what was impressive about the film, that Werner Herzog gave something to this whole situation, and not just to the young man who would die eight days later, but to everyone involved. He gave the other boy's father a chance to seek some kind of redemption, and fight for his son's life, even when he had taken lives himself.
The film made me think of the fragile circumstances that exist for so many kids growing up between a life in prison or on death row. Sometimes, it requires the risky intervention on the part of someone who is actually living Christian principles instead of talking about them.
Herzog is a patient filmmaker. Even the long shots that he chooses too edit into the film are packed full of sub-text. One has to stay open and un-affected by the usual techniques of filmmaking, depending on quick edits and short sound bites. Herzog is a master, and if one is willing to trust him completely, the pay-off is extraordinary.
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