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Dead Man Walking

Actor Tim Robbins' second film as a director beautifully surmounts the obstacles of political filmmaking, presenting an incredibly balanced, gut-wrenchingly moving look at the pain on all sides of the capital punishment issue. Based on the book by Sister Helen Prejean, Dead Man Walking tells the true story of Prejean's (Susan Sarandon) relationship with desperate death row inmate Matthew Poncelot (Sean Penn). When the Governor schedules his execution in six days time, Prejean struggles to reach the heart of this hate-filled, frightened, difficult prisoner — much to the disgust of the aggrieved families of his victims. Instead of never taking sides, Robbins makes the brave-yet-brilliant move of taking all of them, making every character deeply sympathetic. Sarandon won an Oscar for her performance, and it's a stirring turn by this unusually intelligent actress. Penn, however, did not — he was too good for it, pacing away the last hours of his life like a caged animal. Dead Man Walking is also deeply spiritual. Regardless of your own political or religious orientation, watching it is a profoundly provocative and emotional experience. Presented in a crisp 1.85:1 widescreen transfer with pan-and-scan available on the flipside, and Dolby Surround 2.0. Includes an audio commentary by director Tim Robbins.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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(Editor's Note: Dead Man Walking was originally released on DVD by PolyGram but has since been re-issued by MGM.)

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