Sunday, March 01, 2009

Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman

I watched this movie several weeks ago, but forgot to post my "review". So here ya go!

Just as "Vera Drake" was about abortion, "Pierrepoint" is about capital punishment. Like "Vera Drake," it doesn't beat you about the head and shoulders with pros and cons. Instead, it tells the story of Britain's most prolific executioner, then lets you form your own opinion.

Albert Pierrepoint follows in his father's footsteps by qualifying to be on "the list" of executioners who carry out the courts' orders. He does his job well, performing the executions in a few seconds to prevent prolonging the condemn's agony, then treating the dead body with dignity. His work exists in the shadows and his identity remains a secret, until the end of World War II, when his professionalism earns him the privilege of executing war criminals in Germany.

Up until this point, Pierrepoint has carefully compartmentalized his emotions, viewing himself as a tool of the justice system. But the number of executions he performs in Germany undoes something within him. Also, the powers that be, wishing to present themselves as humane executioners, are not above publicizing his identity. His newfound fame does not sit well with him, but his wife is quick to capitalize on it. They buy a pub and his notoriety helps bring in customers.

I won't reveal more about the plot other than to say the movie raises the issues surrounding capital punishment and depicts the public's change in attitude toward it. Regardless of your own position on the issue, the film will make you think.

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