Into The Abyss: A Tale Of Death, A Tale Of Life

Dir: Werner Herzog





Werner Herzog’s Into the Abyss sees the veteran director conduct intimate interviews with prisoners on death row.

Part of a longer term project on the issue (including a series of shorter TV films), the film focuses on the case of two young men from Texas, Michael Perry and Jason Burkett; sentenced to (respectively) death and life imprisonment after killing three people whilst stealing a car. Herzog interviews both men and their family and friends; his conversations with Perry taking place just eight days before Perry’s eventual execution.

Filmed with Herzog’s trademark eye for the absurd (his questions to various interviewees range from the insightful to the simply bizarre: “Please describe an encounter with a squirrel”, anyone?) it nevertheless doesn’t shy away from the pain and horror inherent in the matter at hand for the victims, the perpetrators and their families.

Herzog is against the death penalty – having grown up in the shadow of Nazi Germany, he is clear a state shouldn’t have the right to execute its citizens – but doesn’t attempt to disprove or trivialise the crimes of his subjects, nor to change the political agenda.

Rather, questions of guilt and innocence are placed to one side, in favour of a very Herzog-ian portrait of the reality of death row, though despite occasional levity, this is nevertheless very serious cinema on a topic that’s guaranteed to generate a great deal of press interest.

Booking Information

Release Date

30 March 2012

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