Critic Review - ReelViews

Watching Into the Abyss, I had the overwhelming sense that, somewhere along the way, Werner Herzog lost his way.

November 15, 2011 Full Review Source: ReelViews | Comment (1)
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Jessica Kee

Jessica Kee

I wonder if you really watched the film. You say: "Presumably, they blame the killings on each other, but we never hear anything specific from them except that they didn't do it, nor is it explained why Perry died for the crime while Burkett continues to live."

Those questions are both clearly answered. The killers explicitly blame each other in several scenes. And as Delbert explains, the two female jurors burst into tears after hearing him plead for his son's life, and then voted against the death penalty. This was a key point because it showed how arbitrary and unfair the verdict of death was in this case.

You can't say Herzog failed in his aims because there's no sign he ever meant to make a film with a single overarching message. The film was meant to be a subtle meditation on state-sanctioned death, as well as an exploration of the deep community dysfunction and pathology that renders these random, senseless crimes anything but. To do this Herzog had to step away from the need to impose narrative consistency on his subjects, and respectfully allow them the space for their own musings, no matter how vile or pedestrian. The fact that you don't consider them "interesting" enough to merit such treatment speaks more to your expectations as a viewer than to his filmmaking sensibilities.

Nov 19 - 07:34 AM

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