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Death Row

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Death Row

Post by rainbow-fairy on 29.03.12 15:43

This three-part documentary airs tonight at 22.00 on Channel 4. There are two parts left. I watched last weeks, featuring 'Hank Skinner'. I sobbed from the beginning. I am unequivocally opposed to the death penalty, always have been , always will be.
This week's episode features 'James Barnes' who I understand confesses on film to a further two murders. I will be very interested to compare his body language, linguistics and demeanour with last week's inmate 'Hank Skinner'. I am convinced he didn't do what he was convicted of. Very interesting viewing.
The film-maker Werner Herzog is German and speaks very slow English, I recommend this to anyone.
Here is a review from the Telegraph of last week's episode.

By Chris Harvey

Last Updated: 11:37AM GMT 23/03/2012

Chris Harvey is intrigued by Werner Herzog's TV series about convicted murderers awaiting execution in the US.

Death Row, the German film director Werner Herzog’s three-part series of interviews with convicted murderers awaiting execution in American jails, began with an unusual camera shot. It was a first-person eye view of the short walk from a holding cell along a corridor to the room where death by lethal injection awaited. The walk was taken slowly, the camera's gaze lingering upon a table laid with a white linen cloth on which several holy books rested.

The first-person shot is rarely used. It identifies the viewer with what the camera sees. Here the walk became your walk, your trip to the execution chamber, where a gurney awaited. It was disorienting and disconcerting, and it set the scene for Herzog’s interview with Hank Skinner in Livingston, Texas, convicted 17 years ago of the murder of his girlfriend and her two adult sons.

On one occasion, Skinner had been within minutes of the moment he was scheduled to die. “I could see the gurney, I could see the arm boards, I could see the microphone, I could see the windows where the witnesses stand,” he told Herzog. He had already had his last phone call, when he asked to make just one more call, to his lawyer, who informed him that a stay of execution had been granted. He was told by the guards that they didn’t accept stays on the word of defence lawyers. Unless a call came through from the governor or the district attorney, he would die at the appointed time. Twenty minutes passed, before the phone rang. He was 23 minutes from death. “I was resurrected,” was how he described it later.

Herzog was rigorously formal in his approach. He made it clear that “as a German” he “respectfully disagrees” with capital punishment – legal in 34 US states, performed in 16. Skinner has always protested he is innocent of the murders. Herzog explained to him on camera that he was not there to prove his innocence. He did, however, visit the small town of Pampa in Texas and talked to the reporter who had first picked up news of the triple homicide. It had been a good day for him, he explained, because he’d had no main story for the front page. “I have no doubt that Hank Skinner is guilty,” he said.

Skinner appeared at all times affable, human, expressing thoughts and feelings that would be understandable to most people: sentimental memories of his daughter, rebelliousness towards the strictures of incarceration, a certain curiosity about the type of person who would sign up for the “death house team”, which carries out one execution per week. The details of the crime for which he had been convicted, the bludgeoning to death of his former partner, and the stabbing of her two learning-disabled sons were disconnected from the man sitting chatting on screen.

He had welcomed the journey to the “death house”, he claimed, because he hated, despised the place where he is now, but he admitted he was scared of the blackness, the unknown. “I believe in the hereafter,” he told Herzog, but he had wondered what was going to happen “when I get on the other side”.

There was no discernible polemic. This was simply a conversation with a convicted murderer facing the prospect of death. Its truths were subtle ones.

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Re: Death Row

Post by tigger on 29.03.12 16:28

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Es9XrKTTc_4&feature=related

Worth a quick look - about 2.5 minutes. Ian Hislop explaining the dangers of capital punishment.

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Re: Death Row

Post by rainbow-fairy on 29.03.12 16:40

@tigger wrote:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Es9XrKTTc_4&feature=related

Worth a quick look - about 2.5 minutes. Ian Hislop explaining the dangers of capital punishment.
Bless Ian Hislop!
TY for that tigger, I'll certainly watch it when I am next in reach of broadband (probably tomorrow).

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Truth is artless and innocent - like the eloquence of nature, it is clothed with simplicity and easy persuasion; always open to investigation and analysis, it seeks exposure because it fears not detection.

NORMAN MACDONALD, Maxims and Moral Reflections.

rainbow-fairy

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