After a family tragedy, a racist prison guard re-examines his attitudes while falling in love with the African-American wife of the last prisoner he executed.


Marc Forster
1,869 ( 407)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 14 wins & 23 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Billy Bob Thornton ... Hank Grotowski
Taylor Simpson Taylor Simpson ... Lucille
Gabrielle Witcher Gabrielle Witcher ... Betty
Heath Ledger ... Sonny Grotowski
Amber Rules Amber Rules ... Vera
Peter Boyle ... Buck Grotowski
Charles Cowan Jr. Charles Cowan Jr. ... Willie Cooper
Taylor LaGrange Taylor LaGrange ... Darryl Cooper
Yasiin Bey ... Ryrus Cooper (as Mos Def)
Anthony Bean Anthony Bean ... Dappa Smith
Francine Segal ... Georgia Ann Paynes
John McConnell ... Harvey Shoonmaker
Marcus Lyle Brown ... Phil Huggins
Milo Addica ... Tommy Roulaine
Leah Loftin ... Booter


Set in the Southern United States, 'Monster's Ball' is a tale of a racist white man, Hank, who falls in love with a black woman named Leticia. Ironically Hank is a prison guard working on Death Row who executed Leticia's husband. Hank and Leticia's interracial affair leads to confusion and new ideas for the two unlikely lovers. Written by Anna <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A lifetime of change can happen in a single moment.


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexual content, language and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The movie was named as one of "The 20 Most Overrated Movies of All Time" by Premiere. See more »


(at around 1h 3 mins) Hank mentions to Leticia that he bought Clement's on Prospect Street. In the preceding scene however, Hank is seen looking at the same gas station with the entrance door displaying "1049 East Airline Hwy". See more »


Hank Grotowski: Let's get this over quick.
Minister: is there a passage you'd like me to read?
Hank Grotowski: No, all I wanna hear is dirt hit that box.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Thanks to Sam, Austin, Gabrielle. Scott Lambert is thanked twice. See more »

Alternate Versions

The video was eventually released uncut in the USA in 2003 with the love scene intact, it is under the label "Signature Series". See more »


Referenced in Titanic Review (2012) See more »


Sweet Savannah
Music by Bobby Flores
See more »

User Reviews

Just as many open questions real life offers to us
2 March 2003 | by dv-recSee all my reviews

This movie is outstanding and one of the best dramas i've ever seen.

Some might ask why, because there seems to be nothing really happening at all during the whole movie. Some say the plot is predictable and flat, and the characters too. In my opinion this is just not true. Try to tell the story in one or two lines. Most of the movies can be told in just a short summary, but this does not work for "Monster's Ball" at all. E.g. : "A prison guard falls in love with the wife of a prisoner he just executed". This is a simple tagline, but if you think of what could have happened to this basic plot with other directors, actors or script writers, the feeling of the movie goes in ten thousand different directions. But none of them matches this version. And this is, what makes "Monster's Ball" extremely outstanding.

This movie offers so many different plotlines, questions, and in-depth-characters you simply cannot describe the feeling of the movie and what is really happening here without telling every little bit of it. Yes, it's sad, and it's depressing, and it gives absolutely no answer to any problem at all (which we basically all want, while watching a movie). But in the end, despite all the drama, it's full of warmth and hope. And this is what it's all about. Just after the credits begin to appear, you sit there and think - about anything.

Technically "Monster's Ball" is nearly perfect. There is not a single scene, which could be missed and everything is at it's right place. The excellent music goes with well played characters and the timing makes the whole athmosphere so intense you cannot escape and switch off, even if you know that there will be no "great solution" at all. Some might say it's boring, and yes, you're right - but in this case "Monster's Ball" is simply not the movie you expected.

This one plays with anything we expect from a drama, and this is why most of the other dramas fail and "Monster's Ball" works. Other "so called drama" try to give us solutions, great feelings, great moments in life, and all the other rubbish. But "Monster's Ball" is so slow and intense and ignores all of the standard "drama issues" you have to think for yourselve what this is all about.

For me it's about love, hate, hope, racism, father-son/mother-son relationships, escaping from your past life, death, depressions, failures and many other things. Everything is shown and nothing is really explained. Just like life basically is - full of complex problems we create for ourselves. Some of them can be solved in one or another way, most of them we just ignore, and life still goes on, because we are able to exist with a whole universe of lies around us.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

1 March 2002 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Monster's Ball See more »

Filming Locations:

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA See more »


Box Office


$4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$110,552, 30 December 2001

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (unrated director's cut)

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby | SDDS



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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