Comments on watching and making films.

Monday, January 21, 2008

DVD - Pierrepoint, The Last Hangman

Humanity is known for idolizing and demonizing people, and, occasionally, it's know for doing both to the same person. Pierrepoint, The Last Hangman, is the real life story of Albert Pierrepoint, a man who took on the solemn duty of an executioner, and formed it into a science. We meet Albert as a man who has just begun volunteering for the civic duty of hangman, and see his evolution, as he comes to define the job itself. Pierrepoint can look at a man, or woman, size them up, and know exactly how to hang a noose, so that his prisoners die instantly, and without pain. He does this secretly, often on weekends, while moonlighting during the week as his villages grocer.

When World War II comes to a close, Pierrepoint is asked by one of the top men in the British Army to come to Nuremberg and hang the Nazi's that will be found guilty and sentenced to death for war crimes. Pierrepoint accepts, still hiding his true profession from those around him. Upon his return from Nuremberg, however, a news reporter focuses an article on Pierrepoint and his job as the hangman of the most vilified men of the century, and Pierrepoint becomes a hero to the people of his village (people who were glad to see the Nazi's who were responsible for bombing England hang). Only a few years go by, though, before the tide turns on Pierrepoint, and the people want an end to executions in England. Suddenly, their hangman hero, is now one of the country's most reviled men, having attended to the hanging of some 600+ individuals.

Pierrepoint is a good film. A good film, but not a great film. Unlike most films, it would have been advantageous for the filmmakers to make it a little longer, and add in a little more detail of this man's life. The story takes place over, roughly, twenty years, and, at a lean and mean 90 minutes, we get the point, but not much else.  The film, in my opinion, would have benefitted from seeing an expansion of the storyline between Pierrepoint and his wife. Timothy Spall, as Albert Pierrepoint, plays the consumate English gentleman, a man who doesn't "kiss and tell" about his job, and believes in the sacred duty he is performing. Even when people are singing his praises, after the Nuremberg incident, he is still cautionary, and chooses not to revel in his new found glory.

Overall, Pierrepoint is worth a watch, but I wouldn't rush out to rent it.

No comments: