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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LIVE YOUR DASH
The title of my review comes from a former state executioner who oversaw around 120 inmates put to death.He was saying that on your tombstone you have the day you were born,the day you died and the dash between these dates is your life.Werner Herzogs documentary Into The Abyss is an exploration of a triple homicide case that occurred in Texas which lead to a death...
Published on 9 Jun 2012 by mister joe

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3.0 out of 5 stars Death row
I know that Werner Herzog is the critic's darling and his work much lauded but god I find his films hard to watch. Not only is his pacing deliberate and slow and his delivery soporific but he fails to make even the most interesting subject matter even vaguely watchable. His worst crime in this case though, is that, by the end of the film I wasn't even sure whether the...
Published 12 months ago by Dyspeptic Spirit


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LIVE YOUR DASH, 9 Jun 2012
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This review is from: Into The Abyss [DVD] (DVD)
The title of my review comes from a former state executioner who oversaw around 120 inmates put to death.He was saying that on your tombstone you have the day you were born,the day you died and the dash between these dates is your life.Werner Herzogs documentary Into The Abyss is an exploration of a triple homicide case that occurred in Texas which lead to a death sentence for Micheal Perry and a life sentence for Jason Burkett.The crime was just a profound waste,a pointless tragedy seemingly all down to wanting to steal a car.
We hear from the families of the victims,the police,a pastor,the father of one of the perpetrators which really builds a complete picture and also reveals just the complete complexities,emotions of events that just happen.Things out of anyones control.
As a viewer i just soaked the film in,in many ways at a loss at what to think or feel.Obviously the question of the death penalty hangs over the proceedings Herzog explicit in his view that he doesn't agree.I have always made clear concerning my feelings,i believe the rights of victims come first.I really struggle with the ideas of showing compassion to criminals who showed none to their victims who they snub out and in this case dump into a river.
Herzog as a documentary maker and interviewer is suberb,you just know he wants to get right inside the subject,he wants to capture what these people think,feel,regret.Herzog is an old school maverick,give this dude a battered camcorder send him out and he will capture some magic.What really strikes you is just the amount of sadness that can be experienced in a persons life,one family member detailing the death of her father,sister,uncle on top of the senseless murders of her brother and mother.These people show unimaginable strength in the face of profound adversities.It has to be added that we also see how families can all descend into a life of crime and prison sentences.
This is evocative,thought provoking cinema from a very special film maker.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The 'abyss' - is it the death that awaits one of the killers, or the darkness that envelops those who are left behind?, 29 May 2012
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Straightforward (Twickenham) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Into The Abyss [DVD] (DVD)
I've just finished watching this film, and it has moved me profoundly. Herzog is opposed to the death penalty, but ironically it's made me change my mind: I'm now in favour of it.

We see Michael Perry, the murderer sentenced to death answer questions as he meets Werner Herzog for the first time - we hear Werner's gentle Germanic tones as he says to him (amongst other things) that "When I talk to you, it does not necessarily mean that I have to like you" - he is setting the rules of the interchange that follows. I hate Perry and Jason Burkett for what they did.

We hear the account of the murders as told by law officers - their account of events accompanying police footage of the crime scene and the bodies as they were left: how two teenagers firstly killed a woman for her car, then her son and his friend. I know the world contains callous, stupid people - but their deeds offend me to the core. Discarded corpses left like litter without a second thought.

We then hear the accounts of witnesses and the victims' families, and of the perpetrators themselves; Werner Herzog is never directly seen during the film - sometimes we catch the merest glimpse of his reflection in the prison glass, but mostly we hear him - asking always the direct questions, the ones that take the quickest route to the truth he wants to discover. Never does he betray partiality, or emotion; always it is the truth that he is trying to catch. It is all the more powerful for this. It is beyond doubt that both teenagers are guilty, but one has life imprisonment rather than death to look forward to. Disgustingly, both Michael Perry and Jason Burkett lie about what happened - both try to maintain their innocence; this is almost too much to bear. Habitually amoral career criminals still trying to worm their way through life by continuing to lie, lie, lie.

The whole horror of their stupid pointless crimes gradually gets to you as the film progresses - just how many lives are changed irretrievably, and the devastation those moments caused. The relatives, the witnesses - everyone is interviewed, including an executioner who just couldn't do it any more after he had to kill a female prisoner for the first time (he quit, and lost his pension after having some sort of breakdown); there are many noble victims here.

I want to describe the film in more detail - the different people involved and the feelings they provoke, but I can't. I'm left pondering the 'Abyss' of the title - is it the death that awaits one of the killers, or is it the darkness that envelops those who are left behind?

This is a very powerful and provocative film - I recommend it, but the truth it contains is painful and ugly to behold.

The execution is not shown.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Into the Abyss by Werner Herzog, 8 April 2013
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This is an excellent documentary that brings the viewer behind the scenes capturing not just the perceptions of the victims but also the perpetrators. It deals with the subject of capital punishment in a way that reveals it for what it is. After watching this movie you will certainly be in a better position to make an informed decision about the death penalty. Highly recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant documentary, 10 Feb 2013
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On the case it states "Will stay with you long after the credits have rolled"; a week after viewing I still have this stuck in my mind. It is a stunning documentary of a pointless act (the theft of a car) which left three people murdered, a fourth executed and countless other lives broken to pieces leaving scars that will never heal. In the end who gained from this carnage? No-one. The dvd is a rare view into utter futility.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true eye-opener, 28 Nov 2012
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The usual suspect (2nd aisle on the right, top shelf) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Into The Abyss [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I had no idea what I was buying when I came across Into The Abyss. Didn't have any history of Werner Herzog. Even when I started watching, I still had no idea what was to come. 15 mins in and it becomes very apparent that this is going to be a jaw dropping experience - one of shock at how the human race can produce such horrific individuals.

Loius Theroux has been there with some of his shock docs but this is on another level of depth. Take a guy on death row and then take apart every aspect of the crime. How it happened, how it came to be, where the individuals came from, who are involved with the individuals now. This all sounds a bit like cheesy reporter with a microphone running around interviewing purely for the shock factor but it isn't. Werner is genuinely interested and interesting as he asks the questions we may well ask in his situation. He made the movie for reason other than financial gain.

103 mins of hypnotic viewing that will have you swearing in disbelief constantly. Everyone will have their most shocking moment, for me it is the woman towards the end (those that have already viewed will know whom I am referring to). Remarkable film making.

No subs or alternative audio. Just English.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable, 29 Mar 2012
By 
Friendly Dictator (The South Coast, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Into The Abyss [DVD] (DVD)
Werner Herzog has the wonderful gift of being able to get his subjects to open up in the most incredible of ways. Asking a prison chaplain to 'describe an encounter with a squirrel' the man's response captures the whole spectrum of human emotion, from joy to despair and back again: it is one of the most incendiary speeches caught on camera this year - and all the more powerful for being genuine. Herzog's message is that life is precious - and it is a message drummed home by both the tears of the victim and the murderer's growing realisation that he is going to be put to death and there is nothing he can do to stop it. Explosive, thought-provoking stuff - Herzog shows that whether working with bears or criminals, he is the master of the modern documentary.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Death row, 3 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Into The Abyss [DVD] (DVD)
I know that Werner Herzog is the critic's darling and his work much lauded but god I find his films hard to watch. Not only is his pacing deliberate and slow and his delivery soporific but he fails to make even the most interesting subject matter even vaguely watchable. His worst crime in this case though, is that, by the end of the film I wasn't even sure whether the evidence against the two was conclusive or debatable largely because his presentation was uncritical.

Hard to recommend unless you like old Werner.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Difficult and compelling, 18 April 2014
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maximus (manchester, uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Into The Abyss [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Another almost flawless documentary movie from Werner Herzog. His ability to linger on people and abstract honesty from his subjects is unparalleled. I won't need to go into why the subject is difficult, it doesn't take a genius to work that out, but nevertheless it is compelling viewing without rushing the film. Has to be seen, whether you're a fan of the director or not and bluray is such an excellent medium for it. The scenes of the vast Texas countryside really does frame the question of how such a small town, in a vast state, could repeatedly produce such tragedy?
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars movie OK, but no subtitles, 8 Jan 2013
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The movie is okay, but there are no subtitles, therefore it's often difficult to understand, as the language and the pronunciation of the movie is rather slang than a standard.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Werner does it again, 30 Mar 2012
This review is from: Into The Abyss [DVD] (DVD)
I am a massive fan of Werner Hertzog and was lucky enough to go down to the Q&A he did for into the abyss. It is absolutely amazing. I never though he'd top Grizzly Man but he has somehow managed it
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