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Into the Abyss (2011)

 -  Documentary  -  30 March 2012 (UK)
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 9,562 users   Metascore: 74/100
Reviews: 37 user | 123 critic | 30 from Metacritic.com

Conversations with death row inmate Michael Perry and those affected by his crime serve as an examination of why people - and the state - kill.

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Himself (voice)
Richard Lopez ...
Himself (as The Reverend Richard Lopez)
Michael Perry ...
Himself
Damon Hall ...
Himself
Lisa Stolter-Balloun ...
Herself
Charles Richardson ...
Himself
Jason Burkett ...
Himself
Jared Talbert ...
Himself
Amanda West ...
Herself
Delbert Burkett ...
Himself
Melyssa Thompson-Burkett ...
Herself (as Melyssa Burkett)
Fred Allen ...
Himself
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Storyline

Conversations with death row inmate Michael Perry and those affected by his crime serve as an examination of why people - and the state - kill.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material and some disturbing images | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

| |

Language:

Release Date:

30 March 2012 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, a Tale of Life  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$47,559 (USA) (11 November 2011)

Gross:

$216,262 (USA) (16 December 2011)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Fred Allen: 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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Connections

Featured in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #2.17 (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

 
'The State of Texas wants to kill me'
7 June 2012 | by (Birmingham, England) – See all my reviews

He's taken us into a forgotten cave; alongside bears; to the end of the world; and now Werner Herzog takes us straight into the mind of a madman, in a documentary about what causes people to kill and what society's attitude to such people should be.

Herzog concentrates on just one case, which is more than enough to make his points. Although he doesn't appear on screen, Herzog's voice is important. He dons the role of interviewer, which I believe contributes to the film's power. He asks very precise questions, persists when necessary, but does so in a very innocent, nonchalant way, sometimes even cracking a joke with his subject, who is usually an emotional wreck. And why not? They give more of themselves to someone who they feel is on their side, and we get an insight that is much more accurate than it otherwise could have been.

Michael Perry was a boy when he was convicted of killing a nurse and suspected of killing two youths in 2001. The state of Texas executed him eight days after the film's release. His accomplice to the latter murders, Jason Burkett, received a life sentence. These and other relevant people, such as family members and prison officials, are interviewed to gain a broad range of views on what has always been a difficult political and moral topic.

Documentaries tend to stand back from their topics; Herzog gets right up under their nose. At times I felt he was oblivious to his audience, as though trying to satisfy his own curiosity. And that's why he has always been highly respected: his selfishness is the key to his charity.

All interviews are incredibly moving, not just because almost all involve tears, but because I felt that interviewees had nothing else to reveal and what they did reveal was utterly sincere. This docu-drama uses actual police footage of the crime scenes which, when accompanied by an austere soundtrack, gives the film a sombre, eerie tone.

There's no doubt about it: the crimes were heinous. Both Perry and Burkett blamed each other. Both denied involvement. What's clear is that the crimes were unprovoked and victims perished needlessly. (We're led to believe that people were murdered for the sake of a red sports car.)

Although Herzog states unequivocally that he is anti-capital punishment ('I don't think human beings should be executed. Simple as that'), he never proselytises. He produces an equal account of the merits and pitfalls of state-sponsored execution and, like any objective filmmaker, allows his audience the final say.

www.moseleyb13.com


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'I think he was the most dangerous of anyone I ever met.' mgr2000
Melyssa's Comment About Baby princess_of_pure_delight
Did anyone else get bored after 30 minutes? professorhulk
Death Row inmates are going to die anyway...why speed up the process? s-d-2
Justice melyssamachelle
confused about who was supposed to have committed the murders Evil_Will_Hunting
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