Dead Man Walking

Dead Man Walking

5.0 2
Director: Tim Robbins

Cast: Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, Robert Prosky

     
 

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Tim Robbins' second directorial effort (after the political satire Bob Roberts) was this drama based on a true story, which explores the issue of capital punishment. Sister Helen Prejean (Susan Sarandon) is a nun and teacher living in rural Louisiana. One day, she receives a letter from Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn), who is scheduled to be executed soon for the

Overview

Tim Robbins' second directorial effort (after the political satire Bob Roberts) was this drama based on a true story, which explores the issue of capital punishment. Sister Helen Prejean (Susan Sarandon) is a nun and teacher living in rural Louisiana. One day, she receives a letter from Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn), who is scheduled to be executed soon for the rape and murder of two teenagers. After meeting Matthew, Sister Helen agrees to serve as spiritual counselor and see what she can do to stay the execution. However, Matthew's claims of innocence seem shaky at best, and it's clear he's a reprehensible, amoral racist. When it becomes obvious that Matthew's sentence will be carried out, Sister Helen offers what comfort she can to Matthew, but also tries to guide him to an open admission of the extent of his crimes and an acceptance of divine forgiveness, telling him "I want the last face you see to be the face of love." Susan Sarandon won an Oscar for her performance as Sister Prejean, and Sean Penn was similarly nominated for Best Actor as Matthew.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
A startling and provocative achievement, Dead Man Walking manages the not insubstantial feat of making an eloquent statement against the death penalty while refusing to excuse the killer of his crimes. Preferring to make a case for humanity and the capacity for human forgiveness, writer/director Tim Robbins avoids the self-righteous moralizing that often mars "message" movies. Instead of vilifying those on either side of the death penalty issue, he paints an even portrait of the rage, grief, and complexity in the arguments of both camps. Although Dead Man Walking is remarkable for Robbins' presentation of the many moral and personal issues surrounding the death penalty, it is most memorable for the performances of Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. Penn, in particular, manages to be reprehensible and charismatic all at once: as hateful as he is, the audience cannot look away from him. He makes an initially vile character ultimately sympathetic without resorting to sentiment or manipulation. The performance is uncompromising: never once do we see him try to vie for the audience's sympathy, and his eventual salvation comes on his terms alone. For her part, Sarandon turns in one of the best performances of her career. Her Sister Prejean is both drawn to and repelled by Poncelet, and Sarandon captures these conflicting emotions with honesty and grace. Rather than make Prejean a saint, Sarandon plays her as an unwaveringly decent but flawed human being. She is smart enough to realize the repercussions of her support of Poncelet but compassionate enough to believe that her brand of Christianity must have as much room for those who have sinned as for those who have been sinned against. Thanks to her portrayal and that of Penn, Dead Man Walking is carried by two performances that don't seem to have a hint of acting about them.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/03/1999
UPC:
0027616773432
Original Release:
1995
Rating:
R
Source:
Mgm (Video & Dvd)

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Susan Sarandon Sister Helen Prejean
Sean Penn Mathew Poncelet
Robert Prosky Hilton Barber
Raymond J. Barry Earl Delacroix
R. Lee Ermey Clyde Percy
Celia Weston Mary Beth Percy
Lois Smith Helen's Mother
Scott Wilson Chaplain Farley
Roberta Maxwell Lucille Poncelet
Margo Martindale Sister Colleen
Barton Heyman Captain Beliveau
Steve Boles Sgt. Neal Trapp
Nesbitt Blaisdell Warden Hartman
Ray Aranha Luis Montoya
Larry Pine Guy Gilardi
Kevin Cooney Governor Benedict
Clancy Brown State Trooper
Adele Robbins Nurse
Michael Cullen Carl Vitello
Jack Black Craig Poncelet
Steve Carlisle Helen's Brother
Amy Long Opossum Kid #3
Sally Ann Roberts Reporter #2
Alec Gifford Reporter #3
Mike Longman News Anchor
Lenore Banks Parent #4
Cortez Nance Guard #3
Adam Nelson Guard #4
Pamela Garmon Mirabeau
Scott Sowers Guard #2
Peter Sarsgaard Walter Delacroix

Technical Credits
Tim Robbins Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Douglas Aibel Casting
Tim Baven Producer
Tim Bevan Executive Producer
Michael Bigger Makeup
Lisa Churgin Editor
Roger Deakins Cinematographer
Eric Fellner Executive Producer
Laurie Friedman Set Decoration/Design
Richard Hoover Production Designer
Renee Ehrlich Kalfus Costumes/Costume Designer
Jon Kilik Producer
Tod A. Maitland Sound/Sound Designer
Allan Nicholls Associate Producer
David Robbins Score Composer
Mark Seldis Associate Producer
Rudd Simmons Producer
Bruce Springsteen Score Composer
Tom Waits Score Composer
Tom Warren Art Director
Bob White Associate Producer

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Dead Man Walking 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I recently just watched Dead Man Walking for the first time, I enjoyed this film even though it was very disturbing for me. The fact that this movie was based on a true story is what bothers me the most. At the same time of feeling hatred for Sean Penns character you also become emotionally attached, since they give the story from the ciminal's point of view. I strongly recommend this movie, for anyone who likes to see from the other's point of view.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sean Penn as the amoral rapist-murderer is remarkable in his capacity to play different parts. You really hate the man yet know of the barbaric think that's going to happen to him.