Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Into the Abyss

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material and some disturbing images
Profanity:Mild language
Nudity/Sex:References to logistics of pregnancy when one partner is in prison
Alcohol/Drugs:References to drugs and alcohol
Violence/Scariness:The movie concerns the violent murder of three people and the aftermath, many references to violence
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:November 16, 2011

Werner Herzog continues his exploration of the darkness and the light within the human spirit with “Into the Abyss,” a documentary about why and how we kill each other, in violation of the law and directed by it.

YouTube Preview Image

In Texas, where as many as two prisoners are executed each week, Herzog speaks to the people connected to one crime, the senseless murder of three people by a couple of teenagers, who were just trying to steal a hot car.  Herzog remains off-camera as he interviews the men, now in their 20’s, who are in prison, one just days from his scheduled execution, the woman whose mother and brother were two of the victims, the chaplain and the correctional officer who are the last people the condemned prisoner sees, the police officer who investigated the crime, and others who help to tell the bleak story of loss and limits.

Herzog lets each of them tell us not just what they think but who they are.  He lets us discover for ourselves the telling details like the sign that says “Dream” over the fireplace in the living room of the corrections officer as he tells us that after over 100 executions he just could not do it any more and the tree growing through the floorboards of the car once deemed worth three lives, now rotting in the police impound lot.  We meet the father of one of the two prisoners whose only gift to his son was pleading with the jury not to sentence him to death.  A woman describes falling in love with one of the men in prison and marrying him there.  Both have surprises that confound our expectations.  Many of the interviews present a bleak portrait of limited vistas and opportunities alongside limitless need for love.

Indeed, no matter what views you bring to this film, you will come away enlarged, moved, changed as much from the compassion and generosity of Herzog himself as from the people he interviews. Herzog, who had just an hour with each of his subjects and shows us his first and only conversations with them, has made a film that expands his consideration of the human struggle for connection and meaning.

Parents should know that this is a documentary about the death penalty and the crimes of those sentenced to it.  It includes some crime scene images of murder victims and references to substance abuse and bad behavior.

Family discussion: Does this movie change your views on the death penalty?  What questions would you ask Michael Perry or Melyssa Burkett?  What made Captain Allen change his mind?

If you like this, try: “Dead Man Walking,” “At the Death House Door” and “Robert Blecker Wants Me Dead”

 



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment jasonsgirl

    Thanks for writting this tasteful and articulate article. Although many people have got a glimpse of my life and the choices I have made I want to say very publicly I believe my son was created with as much love as any child. I am so proud to be Jason’s wife and even more proud to be a mommy.

    • Nell Minow

      Thank you very much, Melyssa, and my best wishes to your and your baby.

Previous Posts

Trailer: The Lady in the Van with Maggie Smith
Writer Alan Bennett ("The Madness of King George") was not sure about the right way to respond when a near-homeless woman in a fragile mental state moved her dilapidated van in front of his house. He did not want her there but he could not bring himself to send her away. What began as a three week

posted 8:00:47am Mar. 06, 2015 | read full post »

Unfinished Business
"Unfinished Business" is a story about three renegade renegades from bureaucracy going up against The Man and the importance of the individual in an era of soul-grinding corporatism. But the mo

posted 5:59:57pm Mar. 05, 2015 | read full post »

Chappie
So, basically, no one here saw "Terminator." Or "Frankenstein." But maybe they did see "Robocop?" Or "Short Circuit?" Writer/director Neill Blomkamp likes sci-fi allegories of social and political conf

posted 5:59:11pm Mar. 05, 2015 | read full post »

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
A documentary called "Young at Heart" had a choir of singers in their 80's performing contemporary rock songs.  The very fact of their age and experience gave an unexpectedly profound meaning to the words.  And in "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," a plot that ranges from silly to very silly

posted 5:55:14pm Mar. 05, 2015 | read full post »

Merchants of Doubt
Do you remember the tobacco executives standing up before a Congressional Committee, their right hands raised, each of them swearing that they did not believe that tobacco caused cancer?  That was in 1994, three decades after the US Surgeon General's report showing the adverse health effects of cig

posted 5:30:43pm Mar. 05, 2015 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.