Lesson Before Dying

A Lesson Before Dying

3.6 3
Director: Joseph Sargent

Cast: Don Cheadle, Cicely Tyson, Mekhi Phifer

     
 

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Joseph Sargent's solid adaptation of A Lesson Before Dying comes to DVD with a standard full-frame transfer. English and Spanish soundtracks are rendered in Dolby Digital Stereo. English, Spanish, and French subtitles are accessible. Supplemental materials include cast and crew biographies. This well-acted drama manages to be both an effective piece of drama

Overview

Joseph Sargent's solid adaptation of A Lesson Before Dying comes to DVD with a standard full-frame transfer. English and Spanish soundtracks are rendered in Dolby Digital Stereo. English, Spanish, and French subtitles are accessible. Supplemental materials include cast and crew biographies. This well-acted drama manages to be both an effective piece of drama and a powerful social statement about racism in America.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
It's too much of a lesson to make for great entertainment, but A Lesson Before Dying wasn't made to sell popcorn. In fact, it wasn't even made for the theater. By 1999, cable was the only home for steadfastly earnest movies about soul-searching blacks in the South. Joseph Sargent's film tells an important enough story that it rewards HBO's investment. A Lesson Before Dying wasn't the first nor last such film for Sargent, a prolific TV director, but it did prove a departure for star Don Cheadle, whose previous characters tended to be more unsavory than well-meaning teacher Grant Wiggins. But like his hotel manager in Hotel Rwanda, which would earn Cheadle an Oscar nomination five years later, Wiggins starts out confused, even resentful about his unwitting mission. The film charts both his own growth, and that of the condemned man (Mekhi Phifer), whose self-respect was snatched when his attorney pleaded that executing him would be like executing a hog. The dehumanization of black youths, particularly their abandonment at the hands of the educational system, is rich enough material for a film on its own. But Ann Peacock's adaptation of Ernest J. Gaines' novel is layered enough that it also tackles the divide between light-skinned and dark-skinned blacks, and between the religious and the secular. Grant's unwillingness to be the mouthpiece for the church, when those around him swear it's the only way for the prisoner to find salvation, is the crux of much of the drama. All the performances are effective, but Irma P. Hall is the most moving as the prisoner's life-long caretaker, whom he painfully shuns after his imprisonment.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/25/2000
UPC:
0026359157028
Original Release:
1999
Rating:
PG-13
Source:
Hbo Home Video
Region Code:
1
Sound:
[monaural]
Time:
1:41:00
Sales rank:
14,743

Special Features

Interactive menus; Cast and crew bios; Multiple languages and subtitles tracks; Scene selections

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Don Cheadle Grant Wiggins
Cicely Tyson Tante Lou
Mekhi Phifer Jefferson
Irma P. Hall Miss Emma
Brent Jennings Reverend Ambrose
Lisa Anderson Vivian Baptiste
Frank Hoyt Taylor Sheriff Guidry
Stuart Culpepper Henri Pichot
Patty Mack Inez
Elijah Kelley Clarence
Wynton Yates Louis Washington
Clay Chappell Paul
Cierra Meche Estelle

Technical Credits
Joseph Sargent Director
Robert Benedetti Producer
Charles C. Bennett Production Designer
Michael Brown Editor
Celia Costas Co-producer
Ted Demme Executive Producer
Chuck Jeffreys Stunts
Chuck Jeffries Stunts
Ellen Krass Executive Producer
Donald M. Morgan Cinematographer
Robi Reed-Humes Casting
Joel Stillerman Executive Producer
Ernest Troost Score Composer

Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Chapters
1. Main Title/Crime & Punishment [7:15]
2. The Teacher [6:38]
3. "What Can I Accomplish?" [3:05]
4. The Sheriff [4:24]
5. 1st Visit [4:16]
6. The Classroom [1:45]
7. One On One [3:53]
8. "What's It All For?" [5:53]
9. "Keep On Vexing Me!" [5:42]
10. The Pageant [3:47]
11. Date Is Set [3:24]
12. "Go Ahead And Leave." [2:51]
13. "What Am I Supposed To Be?" [7:26]
14. The Woman I'm Gonna Marry [5:13]
15. The Radio [4:20]
16. The Day Room [8:53]
17. Finding Heaven [7:38]
18. Saying Goodbye [4:24]
19. Staying Strong [5:47]
20. "Thank You, Mr. Wiggins." [4:26]

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A Lesson Before Dying 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
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