Just as I prefer nonfiction to fiction when I pick out a book, I love documentary films, especially when they are about subjects that I find fascinating. Let's face it, the truth is sometimes way stranger than fiction. I know there are thousands out there who would love to argue that point with me, but let's just agree to disagree.
Which is good advice concerning the subject of this film. It's about the death penalty and no matter which side of the fence you're on, I know I probably can't make you change your mind. Not many people have given much thought to the death penalty because it's not something that concerns them in their day to day lives. Heck, most people don't even want to contemplate their own mortality, so why should they care about some stranger? I know that's callous sounding, but it's true. So, I want you to be brave and just watch the film and see what happens.
Into the Abyss opens with Richard Lopez, a death row chaplain standing in Joe Byrd Cemetery talking about his job. And then Mr. Herzog asks Lopez to talk about an incident with a squirrel. You're probably thinking, huh? I was too. I also interviewed Mr. Lopez, but we didn't talk about furry woodland creatures. Our talk was more about God and his (Lopez's not God's) presence during an execution. But, now that I've seen this interview, I think questions about squirrels might be the ticket!.
Okay, sorry for the digression. The film focuses on a murder that occurred in a small town in Texas. Three people were killed. The reason? A car. Herzog interviews the two men who committed the murders as well as the victim's family members. Both sides are given equal time.
It is a slow film, but it is haunting. I very much enjoyed Herzog's look into these people's lives. He is a wonderful filmmaker. Who else could make you think about life, death, and for a fleeting moment, squirrels?
If you've seen it, I'd love to hear what you thought about it.