Dead Man Walking (film)
|Dead Man Walking|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Tim Robbins|
|Produced by||Tim Robbins
|Screenplay by||Tim Robbins|
|Based on||Dead Man Walking
by Sister Helen Prejean C.S.J.
|Music by||David Robbins|
|Cinematography||Roger A. Deakins|
|Editing by||Lisa Zeno Churgin|
|Studio||PolyGram Filmed Entertainment
Working Title Films
|Distributed by||Gramercy Pictures|
|Running time||122 minutes|
Dead Man Walking is a 1995 American crime drama film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn, and co-produced and directed by Tim Robbins, who adapted the screenplay from the non-fiction book of the same name. It tells the story of Sister Helen Prejean, who establishes a special relationship with Matthew Poncelet (played by Sean Penn), a prisoner on death row in Louisiana.
Matthew Poncelet has been in prison for six years, awaiting his execution by lethal injection for killing a teenage couple. Poncelet, located in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, committed the crimes with a man named Carl Vitello, who received life imprisonment. As the day of his execution comes closer and closer, Poncelet asks Sister Helen to help him with a final appeal.
She decides to visit him, and her expectation is that he will come across as arrogant, sexist, and racist, not even pretending to feel any kind of remorse. Instead he affirms his innocence, insisting it was Vitello who killed the two teenagers. Convincing an experienced attorney to take on Poncelet's case pro bono, Sister Helen tries to obtain life imprisonment for Poncelet. Over time, after many visits, she establishes a special relationship with him. At the same time, she gets to know Poncelet’s mother, Lucille, and the victims’ families. The families do not understand Sister Helen's efforts to help Poncelet, claiming she is "taking his side". Instead they desire "absolute justice", namely his life for the lives of their children.
Sister Helen’s application for a pardon is declined. Poncelet asks Sister Helen to be his spiritual advisor through the day of execution, and she agrees. Sister Helen tells Poncelet that his redemption is possible only if he takes responsibility for what he did. Just before he is taken from his cell, Poncelet admits to Sister Helen that he killed the boy and raped the girl. During his execution, he appeals to the boy's father for forgiveness and tells the girl's parents he hopes his death brings them peace. Poncelet is then executed and later given a proper burial. The murdered boy's father attends the ceremony and begins to pray with Sister Helen, ending the film.
- Susan Sarandon as Sister Helen Prejean
- Sean Penn as Matthew Poncelet
- Margo Martindale as Sister Colleen
- Robert Prosky as Hilton Barber
- Lois Smith as Helen's mother
- Jack Black as Craig Poncelet
- Celia Weston as Mary Beth Percy
- Raymond J. Barry as Earl Delacroix
- R. Lee Ermey as Clyde Percy
- Michael Cullen as Carl Vitello
- Scott Wilson as Chaplain Farlely
- Roberta Maxwell as Lucille Poncelet
- Peter Sarsgaard as Walter Delacroix
- Missy Yager as Hope Percy
The film was a family affair for Tim Robbins. In addition to his longtime companion Susan Sarandon, his father, Gil Robbins (Bishop Norwich), mother Mary Robbins (aide to the governor), sister Adele Robbins (nurse), and sons Jack Henry Robbins (opossum kid) and Miles Robbins (boy in church) all played in the film. His brother, David Robbins, composed the score.
The film was very well received by critics and currently holds a 93% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes and an 80 out of 100 on Metacritic . Hal Hinson of The Washington Post commented: "What this intelligent, balanced, devastating movie puts before us is nothing less than a contest between good and evil." Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times described the acting: "For this kind of straight-ahead movie to work, the acting must be strong without even a breath of theatricality, and in Penn and Sarandon, 'Dead Man Walking' has performers capable of making that happen." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four stars, his highest rating, and called it "absorbing, surprising, technically superb and worth talking about for a long time afterward."
At the 68th Academy Awards, Dead Man Walking was nominated in four different categories: Susan Sarandon won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role, Sean Penn was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, Tim Robbins was nominated for Best Director and its main track "Dead Man Walkin'" by Bruce Springsteen was nominated for Best Song.
At the Golden Globes, Sarandon and Penn received nominations for their acting while Robbins received one for best screenplay. At the 46th Berlin International Film Festival, Penn won the Silver Bear for Best Actor.
Dead Man Walking debuted on December 29, 1995, in the United States. With a budget of $11 million, the film grossed $39,387,284 in the United States and $43,701,011 internationally, for a total of $83,088,295.
- "Dead Man Walking." The Washington Post. Retrieved on September 2, 2010.
- Hinson, Hal (January 12, 1996). "A Tale of Giving the Devil His Due". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 11, 2010.
- Turan, Kenneth (December 29, 1995). "Movie Review Dead Man Walking". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 17, 2007. Retrieved July 11, 2010.
- Ebert, Roger (January 12, 1996). "Dead Man Walking". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved July 11, 2010.
- "Berlinale: 1996 Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
- "Box Office Data for Dead Man Walking".
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Dead Man Walking (film)|
- Dead Man Walking at the Internet Movie Database
- Dead Man Walking at Box Office Mojo
- Dead Man Walking at Rotten Tomatoes
- Dead Man Walking at Metacritic
- Dead Man Walking at the Arts & Faith Top100 Spiritually Significant Films list
- Interview with Sister Helen Prejean
- Dead Man Walking review from Entertainment Weekly
- "Entertainment Watch: Dead Man Walking" from AmericanCatholic.org, April 1996 James Arnold's Catholic view on the film
- Sister Helen Prejean: The Real Woman Behind "Dead Man Walking" by John Bookser Feister from AmericanCatholic.org