- Running time:
- 107 minutes
- Werner Herzog
- Overall User Rating:
- (0 ratings)
["Into the Abyss" premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. The following is an excerpt from Metromix's coverage of the festival.]
Werner Herzog's latest documentary "Into the Abyss" examines the death penalty through a single 28-year-old inmate on death row in Texas. Michael Perry was convicted of a triple homicide and Herzog sits down to interview him eight days before his death sentence is scheduled to be carried out.
The film is upfront in its opposition to the death penalty on moral grounds, but Herzog is never strident or manipulative. If anything, he goes out of his way to foreground the victims' families, and their stories of loss and pain are far more affecting than anything said by or on behalf of Perry and his accomplice Jason Burkett (who is serving a life sentence). With its reasonably balanced approach, "Into the Abyss" admirably forces contemplation about the humanity of the death penalty, while offering at least some understanding of why capital punishment exists.
Unfortunately, Herzog's own contemplative interview style feels out of place here. Although he doesn't insert quite as much philosophical voiceover as he has in other films (including recent arthouse hit "Cave of Forgotten Dreams"), he can't help but shape questions in a way that conveniently lead his subjects into pseudo-profundities. There's also a queasiness to the way Herzog's interest in human eccentricity invites (perhaps unintentionally) laughter at undeserving targets.
Follow Metromix's Geoff Berkshire on Twitter: @geoffberkshire