INTO THE ABYSS (2011)

  • Cinemuse 5 Ryneveld Street Stellenbosch, WC, 7600 South Africa

> click image for trailer

DIRECTED BY WERNER HERZOG

USA | 2011 | 106 minutes | NA

The documentary centers on two young men in prison. Michael Perry is on Death Row in Huntsville, Texas, America's most productive assembly line for executions, and on the day film director, Werner Herzog spoke with him, he had eight days to live. 

Herzog became curious about the case, took a small crew to Huntsville and Conroe, Texas, where the murders took place, and spoke to the killers, members of their families and those of their victims. He obtains interviews of startling honesty and impact.

Herzog opposes the death penalty, which America and Japan are the only developed nations still imposing. But the film isn't a polemic. Herzog keeps a much lower profile than in many of his documentaries. He is not seen, and his off-camera voice quietly asks questions that are factual, understated and simply curious. His subjects talk willingly. He asks difficult follow-up questions. He is not very interested in the facts (there is no doubt about guilt here), but in looking into the eyes and souls of people who were directly involved. Herzog never sensationalizes, never underlines, expresses no opinions. He listens.