Saturday, December 17, 2011

Into the Abyss

Michael Perry, 8 days before his execution
It opens with a death row chaplain at a Texas state cemetery which is the final resting place for unwanted executed inmates who have numbers instead of names gracing their grave markers. The parson relates a story of how he almost ran over a couple of squirrels with his golf cart and broke down and cried because he could not extend the same compassion to the men he accompanies to their death. Following this prologue, we then descend into the story of a 2001 triple homicide in Conroe, Texas and the two men who committed the senseless act: John Burkett, who is eligible for parole in 2041, and Michael Perry, who will be executed 8 days following the interview. "Into the Abyss" is a documentary from legendary director Werner Herzog who has combed the dark recesses of the earth, including Antarctica and the primitive caves of France, and now examines American crime and life through this dark and tragic microcosm. With his trademark philosophical sensibilities, Herzog interviews Perry and Burkett, their families, and victims' families and seeks not sensationalism but to elicit the humanity of all involved, or what is left if there ever was any, in some cases. "Into the Abyss" is a harrowing journey of wasted and regrettable lives and also the most moving picture of recent recollection.