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STUDIO MPI Home Video
RUNNING TIME 107 Minutes
Werner Herzog’s real life In Cold Blood that shows the outcome of two murderers whose trials went different ways.
Director Werner Herzog Cast Fred Allen, Jason Burkett, Melyssa Burkett, Michael Perry
Conversations with death row inmate Michael Perry and those affected by his crime serve as an examination of why people – and the state – kill.
This movie could definitely be used as propaganda during the election year, and even though it attempts to remain neutral, it is somewhat slanted against the death penalty. All you have to do is look at the Pitch from the back of the Blu Ray, stating this film examines why the people and the state kill. For the most part, I don’t often think of the death penalty as a major reason to change my political views and don’t see things as black and white. Multiple pre-meditated murders proved beyond a doubt (Confession) leaves a trail of hurt big enough that it doesn’t seem fair that the killer gets to live a sustainable life.
Documentaries have been home to propaganda forever. Just look at Michael Moore’s career and you need not look any further. Herzog masterfully takes the different outcomes of two convicted murderers, explains the events that put them there and shows that even though they were involved in the same crime the outcomes were completely different.
Michael Perry and Jason Burkett got wasted one night and planned on visiting a friend and taking his fathers loaded convertible Camaro. When the friend wasn’t home, they went ahead with the plan and executed his mother, dumped her body using their own car, drove back to the gated community the friend lived in and waited for the friend because they were too stupid to take the gate remote with them. After they killed the friend and the person he was with, they partied and hot rodded until the police found them and they had a big shootout. It sounds like something from a FOX show about when rednecks attack, but just listening to the surviving family members of the slain helps to remind you this was a horrible thing done to people for almost no reason.
Perry and Burkett couldn’t be presented more different. Perry was interviewed on death row with an impending date of execution, but is all smiles, god fearing and apologetic. Burkett talks carefree about the events after stating it doesn’t matter as they already confessed to it. He’s much more serious in topic and explains the meaning of his life sentence and a little about security changes as he endures his stay.
We get interviews with all the main players, the two murderers, one of the remaining family members of the Mother/Son victims, the brother of the other victim, a retired prison guard assigned to oversee executions, a murderer’s wife and his father.
The style of the film does good to support Burkett’s life sentence is punishment enough for the crime. The sister/daughter survivor does a good job of adding her feelings into it, also taking the side that death for any reason is wrong. The topic is never fun to talk about, and there are always those who claim financial reason for the death penalty as well as eye for an eye mentality define the death penalty as the only option. The thing I took from it was that Herzog laid it on too thick at the end. The interview with Burkett’s wife, the filmed admission of contraband and the ability for his family to live easier than the victims really just pissed me off, and wished he would have been strapped up just like his partner. I can’t imagine what to say about his wife, so I’m not going to start because the language I would use doesn’t belong in print.
As far as the technical side of the documentary goes, it has beautiful modern day shots mixed with grainy police footage from the crime scene. It was a marvel to see how rich the colors were when in the park with the victim’s brother or Michael Perry’s bright orange undershirt and black as night pupils. Into the Abyss was Oscar nominated for best documentary and the camera work and patience with the subjects leaves no question as to why. They even made a group of people that spoke like Larry the Cable Guy completely understandable and let them show the effects this crime has had on them.
I may not have liked Herzog ‘s forgiving stand with this documentary, but I will definitely see Cave of Forgotten Dreams now. I hope at some point he stops with the documentaries and gets back to scripted film. I enjoyed my time with the film, felt bad about Perry and felt even worse that our system lets Burkett live the semblance of a good life (even though behind bars) that their victims never had the chance to.
This Oscar nominated film also took a stance on another crime. Rape, as this Blu Ray release was completely raped of any features outside of a trailer.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars