Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life

Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life

Werner Herzog's latest stunning documentary explores the human cost of crime and its consequences, following the moving story of Michael Perry and Jason Burkett, two young men who were found guilty of three capital murders. 3.1 out of 5 based on 12 reviews
Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life

Omniscore:

Certificate
Genre Documentary
Director Werner Herzog
Cast Michael Perry, Jason Burkett Werner Herzog
Studio Revolver
Release Date March 2012
Running Time 107 mins
 

Werner Herzog's latest stunning documentary explores the human cost of crime and its consequences, following the moving story of Michael Perry and Jason Burkett, two young men who were found guilty of three capital murders.

Reviews

The Evening Standard

David Sexton

Herzog says to Perry, early in this masterful documentary, that he thinks human beings should not be executed. But he also tells him he does not exonerate him. This film is no simple polemic against the death penalty, nor does it ever question his conviction. So many documentaries about prisoners never even consider their crimes, let alone find their victims. This movie, though, addresses the whole context of these senseless killings in this forlorn, brutal corner of Texas, becoming a work of what Herzog calls “true American Gothic".

30/03/2012

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Time Out

Ben Walters

The abyss looms dark indeed but the picture pulses with the insistent peculiarities of life as it is lived by wilful individuals. For while Herzog shows appropriate sobriety, he couldn’t make a solemn film if he tried: the most moving observation comes in an anecdote about a squirrel and a golf cart.

29/03/2012

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The Times

Kate Muir

The German director elicits moving and troubling confessions from murderers and victims’ families as he deconstructs a senseless triple killing — over a tacky red sports car.

30/03/2012

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Total Film

Kevin Harley

Don't be fooled by the lack of suicidal penguins and bear-loving oddballs in Werner Herzog’s documentary about Death Row. His tenacious curiosity, eye for absurd-yet-telling details and passionate humanism are upfront here, braiding a study of capital punishment in Texas with an incisive, compassionate portrait of life in death’s shadow.

19/03/2012

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The New York Times

A. O. Scott

If Mr. Herzog is never overtly judgmental, he is not aloof or neutral, either. What makes the film bearable — what keeps the viewer just at the near edge of despair — is the ethical passion that drives his inquiry and his compassionate curiosity about how people make sense of their own actions and motivations. Mr. Herzog is an excellent listener, a quality that distinguishes his recent documentaries ... and this film is linked to its predecessors by a fascination with human behavior in extremis.

10/11/2011

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The Observer

Philip French

Dr Johnson said that when a man knows he's about to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates the mind wonderfully. You could say the same about watching a film about a man waiting to be hanged.

01/04/2012

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The Guardian

Peter Bradshaw

It is a sombre, thoughtful, restrained and often powerful piece of work. Herzog remains off camera: we hear only that unmistakeable voice, calm and non-judgmental. But this is also a pretty conventional film, and for me does not quite have the force of that literary classic to which it has been compared: Truman Capote's In Cold Blood.

29/03/2012

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The Independent on Sunday

Laurence Phelan

An eloquent open-ended meditation on crime and punishment.

01/04/2012

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The Los Angeles Times

Betsy Sharkey

Herzog is neither an apologist for the criminal's deeds nor strident in his debate. It is familiar ground Herzog is covering, with its fundamental Dead Man Walking crisis of conscience issues. What is missing is something new — clarity, insight, outrage. Instead, its understatement is ultimately its undoing.

11/11/2011

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The Independent

Anthony Quinn

The story has all the Herzogian Gothic – madness, murder, the workings of fate – but the director just hasn't shaped them into any kind of coherent pattern. We gather his opposition to capital punishment, but in interviewing the perpetrators and the victims' family and friends he allows them to ramble instead of asking the hard questions.

30/03/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

Robbie Collin

At least we get a couple of Herzogian moments: one a marrow-freezing first-person prowl around a Texan execution chamber, and the other an interview with a death row pastor, who is moved to tears by the recollection of an encounter with a squirrel on a golf course. Death often becomes Herzog, but sadly not this time.

29/03/2012

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The Sunday Times

Cosmo Landesman

Suffers from a lack of analysis.

01/04/2012

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