For the rest of you: Susan Sarandon is in her usual top form as Sister Helen Prejean, a rather naive nun who finds herself unwillingly ensnarled in controversy when she becomes the spiritual adviser to Matthew Poncelot, a convicted killer on Louisiana's death row.
His chilling portrayal of Poncelot is convincing and effective.
full title · Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States author · Helen Prejean, C. narrator · Helen Prejean point of view · First-person, subjective narration from Prejean’s perspective tone · Compassionate, outraged tense · Past, present, and future setting (time) · 1982–1991 setting (place) · New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana protagonist · Helen Prejean major conflict · Prejean struggles to save Patrick’s life as his execution date draws near rising action · Millard Farmer decides to assist Prejean with Patrick’s defense climax · Patrick’s last few hours of life, from his final meal to his last words falling action · Prejean returns home and, after six months, realizes she must continue to fight against capital punishment themes · The redemptive power of love; the linked symptoms of social injustice; the importance of personal responsibility; the moral cost of executions motifs · Supreme Court decisions; grief; the role of government symbols · C.
type of work · Nonfiction genre · Memoir; current affairs language · English time and place written · 1993, Louisiana date of first publication · 1993 publisher · Random House.
While Penn is subjected to the anguish of waiting for the guards to escort him to the death chamber, the audience too feels each brutal moment slowly tick by.
Worst of all, Poncelot is reduced to a scared child, and no matter how terrible the murders were, I don't believe there was anyone in the audience who could, without any twinge of conscience, think that he deserved to die.
Meanwhile, Poncelot's mother is heartbroken, and cannot testify at his appeal hearings without breaking down in tears. Intertwined with these scenes, which bring on feelings of sympathy for Poncelot, are appalling reminders of the brutality of the murders: flashbacks to the murders and displays of the intense grieving of the family of the victims, who feel that Poncelot's death would give them some semblance of peace.
The film shows how the murders ripped apart the marriage of one of the victim's parents: "Till death do us part," the father bitterly comments.
Sister Helen's spiritual counsel to Poncelot is really nothing more than a plot contributor in this film.
The most impressive aspect of the film is its comprehensive analysis of the death penalty issue.