Entertainment :: Movies

Into The Abyss

by Jake Mulligan
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Friday Apr 20, 2012
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With "Into the Abyss," director Werner Herzog makes the inquiry his entire career has been building towards - the morality, or lack thereof, inherent in the human soul. Interviewing two men convicted of a triple homicide (one of them awaits his execution just days later) he attempts to find a sense of reason, or meaning, behind meaningless deaths and malicious crime.

His photography (which I believe is modeled after the drifting style employed in a crime scene video - the footage is screened early in the film,) is haunting. His interviews are devastating. It’s an incredibly bleak film, but an important one - the reports that this is nothing more than a study of the death penalty ignore the far greater themes being probed.

Composed in 5 chapters, he attempts to portray everything surrounding the crime he studies - the victims, the family left behind, the criminals, the motive, and even the meaning behind such an event. Where others would sensationalize or exploit the crime, Herzog simply uses it as a jumping-off point, even going so far as to speak to executioners and death row chaplains.

Herzog has said that "Into the Abyss" is a title that he has considered for all of his films; and his obsession with this theme is second-to-none. He has studied the descent of men into madness, violence, and obsession over and over again - from "Aguirre, Wrath of God" (1972) to "Bad Lieutenant" (2009.) And with this documentary, he seems to stare that theme directly in the face; confronting nothing less than death itself.

The disc comes with a lone special feature (the trailer), but more importantly the picture quality perfectly recreates the theatrical look. Besides, who needs special features with a film this dense? You could watch it countlessly and never discover the full scope of what Herzog is saying.

"Into the Abyss"
Blu-ray
$29.98
ifcfilms.com

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