Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Drama Now on DVD Chronicles Career of British Executioner

Between 1933 and 1955, Albert Pierrepoint (Timothy Spall) was a hangman who perfunctorily pulled the lever on the trap door beneath the feet of 608 condemned souls sentenced to death. He had inherited the grisly family business from his father and uncle, both of whom had previously performed the same duty in service of the British legal system.
Unmoved by begs for mercy, Albert was so efficient at doling out the death penalty that he quickly rose through the ranks to become the country’s number one executioner. Yet, he also performed this morbid task with a certain air of nobility, always allowing the condemned to die with dignity.
Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman presents an empathetic portrait of this complicated figure, chronicling the mounting toll which his work in the gallows gradually took on his psyche and private life. Because he had a day job as a delivery boy for a grocery store, few initially knew he also moonlighted as a state-sanctioned angel of death.
His wife, Annie (Juliet Stephenson), had only agreed to Albert’s taking the gruesome gig in the gallows on the condition that he never talk to her or anyone else about it. Of course, this meant that he had no constructive outlet for all the emotional baggage building up inside of him.
Everything came to a head when he lost his anonymity with the celebrity which accompanied his assignment to kill 200 Nazi war criminals. The distaste that most of his friends felt about his profession left him a very lonely figure.
Ultimately, Al lost his enthusiasm entirely after having to hang a pal, and he resigned from the post entirely. Overwhelmed with regret, he would later state, “The fruit of my experience has this bitter aftertaste…. Capital punishment, in my view, achieved nothing but revenge.”

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for nudity, disturbing images and brief sexuality.
Running time: 90 minutes
Studio: Genius Products
DVD Extras: Deleted scenes, director’s audio commentary, and a theatrical trailer.

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