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Into the Abyss

HD   15

Werner Herzog

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About the Film

Werner Herzog's latest stunning documentary focuses on the bleak yet fascinating subject of capital punishment, following the moving story of Michael Perry and Jason Burkett, two young men who were found guilty of three capital murders. Perry was executed eight days after filming commenced while Burkett was sentenced only to life in prison. Unravelling the crime and trial from separate viewpoints, including the victim's families and prison staff, Herzog's masterful exploration of life on Death Row shows the devastating effects on all involved. Winner of the Grierson Award for Best Documentary at this year's London Film Festival, 'Into The Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life' ranks among the director's finest works to date.

Customer Reviews

Good documentary but defeats its purpose

Not quite up to his usual standard - and as a polemic against the death penalty it fails utterly. The perpertrators are never really tackled about the crime itself and more importantly their quite obvious lack of guilt over it. They of course are more concerned with their own fate than that of their three innocent victims and as always the most distasteful thing about those who commit these unspeakable acts is their utter refusal to take responsibility for them. The most telling part of the whole film for me is when herzog asks the daugther and sister of two of the victims what seeing the death sentence carried out actually meant. She said it was like a weight lifting off her - the obvious inference being that vengeance, whatever else it may be, brings a fleeting relief from the anguish caused by those that committed the crime. My view is that if that is the only useful purpose served by the death penalty then it is a useful purpose. Great documentary but I felt it missed an opportunity to really probe the nature of the crime it sought to investigate and the nature of those who committed it. The interviews with the former executioner seemed tacked on to an extent in a somewhat obvious and belated attempt to make a point. As a whole it left me feeling as if justice had been done.


I'm still reeling from this unbelievably haunting documentary. More than a tale of life and death, this is a tale of basic human freedoms. Further enforced Herzog's sensitivity and profound film-making abilities, which are second to none.


Very interesting docu-film about capital punishment. The visual style and people interviewed make this incredibly thought provoking.

Into the Abyss
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  • £7.99
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Released: 2011

Customer Ratings