Saturday, 7 April 2012

Review - Into the Abyss (2011- Dir. Werner Herzog)


This is not the Werner I'm used to. This is more like his other more recent work, such as Grizzly Man. And, to be honest, (normally I'm a right liar) it's a lot better than his earlier animal bothering offerings.

1. The crime.

Werner follows an inmate on death row and interviews people involved in the crime, family members and officials who deal with the whole process of death. Michael Perry was convicted of murdering a mother and was suspected of killing two teenagers. The intent was to steal a car. As the Sheriff states in the film, three people died over a red Camaro and the perpetrators were only in possession of it for about forty-eight hours.

2. Interview style.

Rather than employing someone else to interview the people involved, Werner dives straight in there and gets his hands dirty. He loves getting to the nitty-gritty of what happened and how they feel about it. At one point he even makes a joke about Perry's accomplice, Jason Burkett, who had a piece of shrapnel lodged in his side. He doesn't see the funny side. Werner does. And has a little chuckle.

3. Most preposterous story.

One of the people interviewed - I'm not really sure who he was - told a story of having a fight with someone and there being an incident involving a foot long screwdriver. This injury would have surely caused death within minutes. The bloke didn't even bother going to the hospital. A tale worthy of Ken McKenzie.

This clip has nothing whatsoever to do with the film. Great song though.

4. The death penalty.

Werner wastes no time in saying that he doesn't agree with the death penalty. He ascertains from one of the victim's daughters that she felt that justice would be carried out with life imprisonment. Possibly Werner's ace in the hole is his interview with one of the men responsible for looking after the inmates in their final hours, strapping them down and administering the fatal injections. I won't give details, but whilst watching I thought that if I was going to be executed I wouldn't mind this friendly fellow doing it. (Well, maybe I would. But you know what I mean.)

5. Hard lives.

One of the most amazing things about hearing about these people's live is how unlucky they are. Some of the interviewees have lost all or virtually all of their families under various circumstances. Either that or they're all in prison. It must be a nightmare getting life insurance in Conroe, Texas.

6. Enjoyable?

This is a good, well-made film but not one that I would want to watch again. I was constantly interested and at times amazed by some of the goings on. Definitely worth watching once. Recommended.


On the walk back to the car park after seeing this, Doccortex and I were egged. Well, someone tried to. I felt something brush my stomach. The Doc felt something brush his leg. Then we saw the egg explode on the pavement. A dubious looking car sped past. How lucky was that? (We were not so lucky in Peasholm Park, when a goose decide to lighten its load on us, but that's another story.) I'm hoping that my luck holds out for the lottery tonight. I wonder whether Werner would agree with the death penalty for egg throwers...


If you like this you could also try:
Grizzly Man, Cave of Forgotten Dreams.

1 comment:

  1. Agree completely - this is a surprisingly high quality film that has made me really think ever since I saw it. Rarely do we explore things in any depth in the modern mass media and Werner's slow, drawn out approach worked brilliantly in this case.
    Did it change my mind? Well no, but the sneaky little egg throwers did. Nice to see the boys in blue chasing them and then (hopefully) transporting them to death row!