A nun, while comforting a convicted killer on death row, empathizes with both the killer and his victim's families.

Director:

Tim Robbins

Writers:

Helen Prejean (book) (as Sister Helen Prejean C.S.J.), Tim Robbins
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Popularity
4,662 ( 108)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 22 wins & 23 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Susan Sarandon ... Sister Helen Prejean
Sean Penn ... Matthew Poncelet
Robert Prosky ... Hilton Barber
Raymond J. Barry ... Earl Delacroix
R. Lee Ermey ... Clyde Percy
Celia Weston ... Mary Beth Percy
Lois Smith ... Helen's Mother
Scott Wilson ... Chaplain Farley
Roberta Maxwell ... Lucille Poncelet
Margo Martindale ... Sister Colleen
Barton Heyman ... Captain Beliveau
Steve Boles Steve Boles ... Sgt. Neal Trapp
Nesbitt Blaisdell ... Warden Hartman
Ray Aranha Ray Aranha ... Luis Montoya
Larry Pine ... Guy Gilardi
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Storyline

A convicted murderer on Death Row and the nun who befriends him. Through the portrayal of finely drawn characters and their interactions as the days, hours, and minutes tick down to the condemned man's execution, powerful emotions are unleashed. While Matthew Poncelet and Sister Prejean desperately try to gain a stay of execution from the governor or the courts, scenes are intercut from the brutal crime, gradually revealing the truth about the events that transpired. In addition to her temporal help, the nun also tries to reach out spiritually and assist as a guide to salvation. Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for a depiction of a rape and murder | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

After being told that she would be played in the film by "a famous actress from Thelma & Louise (1991)", Sister Helen Prejean was introduced to Susan Sarandon and said "Thank God, she's Louise." See more »

Goofs

When Sister Helen and Sister Colleen are discussing Matthew's funeral, Sister Colleen, thinking about his funeral suit, asks Sister Helen how big Matthew is, as though she's never seen him in the flesh before. But Sister Colleen was at the Pardon Board hearing, sitting right behind Matthew. She would have known his size. See more »

Quotes

Clyde Percy: How can you stand next to him?
Sister Helen Prejean: Mr. Percy, I'm just trying to follow the example of Jesus, who said that a person is not as bad as his worst deed.
Clyde Percy: This is not a person. This is an animal.
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Crazy Credits

This Film Was Edited On Old Fashioned Machines. This credit was inspired by John Ottman, editor of 'The Usual Suspects'. Ottman had wanted to put "edited on a piece of s*** Steenbeck" at the end of his movie, but settled for the more subtle "Edited on film". Tim Robbins heard about this, and decided to put his own variation of the line on the credits of 'Dead Man Walking.' See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Devil Doll (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Be Not Afraid
Performed by Susan Sarandon
Written by Bob Dufford
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User Reviews

A worthy effort by all concerned.
9 June 2001 | by XRANDYSee all my reviews

Tim Robbins takes this film beyond its implicit political message and produces a moving piece of art. Though the underlying anti-death penalty moral is prevalent, the director never becomes tendentious. He intersperses the plight of death row inmate Matthew Poncelet with gruesome, if not surreal, images of the crime that he committed. And where one would expect a juxtaposition of the brutality of Poncelet's (and his co-perpetrator's) nefarious act with an equally cruel demonstration of state-sponsored execution, Robbins shows Poncelet's death to be clinical and quiet in comparison to his sordid deed. It is this type of restraint that not only adds credibility to the work but also power.

The performances of Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon as Poncelet and Sister Helen Prejean respectively, are stellar. Penn's grim nuance pervades his character as he moves from stoical rancor to the contrition that provides the denouement. With the incisiveness in which his acting has become associated he provides the edge in which Sarandon impinges her role. Appearing perpetually exhausted, she immerses herself in the sturm and drang of her part and counters Penn's fringe with an enveloping emollient. Even her expostulations and attempts to save Poncelet from perdition do not even approach pontification or the banal.

In the end this movie did not change my opinion on the death penalty; such conversions only occur via gradation. However it did leave a lasting impression on me as powerful as its provocative subject matter.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 February 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dead Man Walking See more »

Filming Locations:

Angola, Louisiana, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$11,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$118,266, 1 January 1996

Gross USA:

$39,363,635

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$39,363,635
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS (Digital DTS Sound) (1999 Re-Release)| SDDS (1999 Re-Release)| Dolby Digital (1999 Re-Release)| Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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