Werner Herzog on the Death Penalty

Thursday, November 03, 2011

German film director, producer and screenwriter Werner Herzog explores the American death penalty in his new documentary Into the Abyss, about a triple homicide in Texas.


Werner Herzog

Comments [15]

Matt from California

How are the loved ones of the murdered victims coping? I would watch that. I've no interest in receiving yet another lecture by some Mumia-loving Euro about how the American justice system fails killers.

Nov. 03 2011 06:57 PM
rose-ellen from jackson hts.

Can somebody deconstruct the all too often heard "i'm against the death penalty because it's... barbaric, unethical, cruel etc...However I'm for life in prison without parole becuse that is worse then the death penalty which is another so glibly and confidently and smugly promoted refutation of the death penalty -as the epitome of what?-having one's cake and eating it too-killing two birds with one stone-what[inauthenticity]is going on with that one?The other one beng I'm against the death penalty because i'm against the taking of human life but taking peoples lives in droves in war is again smugly glibly accepteable.
And the other one that needs deconstruction is the "if it were my relative murdered I would want the death penalty" but that's just emotional and emotions have no place in determining what our laws should be. As if the murder of someone we know is worse then the murder of someone we don't in the eyes of the law. As if society should not be too outraged at the murder of someone -but only the relative should be outraged and our laws should not reflect outrage at the crime of murder.As if -if someone is murdered by someone who has no relatives -that is not as outrageous then if that person had a relative.We should be outraged at murderers and the death penalty is a warrented and just reponse to that justified outrage.That is what a civilized country should reflect in its laws -reasonable and just reponses to crimes.The death penalty is a reasonable response to the crime of premeditated murder.. Telling the public that only the relative should be sufficiently outraged by a murder is unreasonable and unjust and an uncivilized response to the crime of murder.It says to the relative we break with you in your outrage and by saying this in fact express complicity with the murderer[the strong over the weak who remains standing].

Nov. 03 2011 01:57 PM
rose-ellen from jackson hts.

A country that does not have a death penalty is complicit with the murderer. It asserts its solidarity with the strong over the weak, the powerful over the powerless, the darwinian survivial of the fittest which is the antithesis of ethics.Society and it's laws should stand in solidarity with the victim,the weak and the powerless over the strong.Our laws should not reflect the laws of nature where only the strong survive. Rather it should stand with the weak over the strong even and especially when the weak has been killed by the strong. Revenge or punishment is justice. Life in prison without parole is inhuman. Killing someone as retribution for a cold blooded killing is very human and just. [And could these self righteous anti death penalty proponents hold the key to someones jail cell day in and day out for the rest of the prisoners life? I don't think so and I would not want them too.In fact they really believe in survivial of the fittest themselves .That to me is worse then barbarism but shear inhumanity]. And of course the hypocrisy of professing to being against murder while glibly making the exception for war. Unless one is a pacifist being against the death penalty where a person who has killed innocent people is killed in retribution is consided wrong but droping bombs on villages, cities towns buildings etc that you know kill innocent men, women, and children and blow their arms and legs off is acceptable -is the epitome of inauthenticity and self righteous misplaced indignation masking an all too willingness to murder [innocent people] while feigning valuing human life.And the deliberate killing of soldiers who are also humans as acceptable pawns belies their professed valuing of human life.You can't vaue human life too much if you're willing to kill innocent people en masse-What you really value is a false view of yourselves as being civilized and expressing your moral highground in not wanting to show vengeance by killing the killer. But killing innocent people is glibly accepted as a means to an end.I believe killing people as a punishment for having chosen to deliberately take an innocent life is just. it does not dehumanize the murderer but holds him accountable as a responible human being . Life in prison without parole treats a person like a caged animal[and even for animals it is wrong] That is inhuman and worse then barbarism. Humans have a need for justice and vengence is justice[when meted out against the perpertrator-not a proxy or scapegoat].And of course anti death penalty advocates who are not pacifists have an ace in the hole; if they are outraged enough by a particular crime-they can always declare the perpetrators enemies of the state and wage war against them.[label them a terrorist] Then they can stalk and murder them and still tell themselves they're [unlike those who accept the death penalty as just for all premeditated murderers]civilized enough to be against killing as vengeance.

Nov. 03 2011 12:54 PM
Robin from Queens

Wait, this opened last night, not tonight!

Nov. 03 2011 12:00 PM
MP from Brooklyn

What a fascinating and deeply thoughtful man - he always sets my wheels turning.

Nov. 03 2011 11:59 AM
Henry from Manhattan

Gotta love Herzog.

Nov. 03 2011 11:59 AM

is there something of object impermanence when we think about the cruelty of the death that the living will always come before the dead? even the murder's life important b/c they live?

Nov. 03 2011 11:58 AM
The Truth from Becky

Against the death penalty because I think life in prison is a far more worse sentence.

Nov. 03 2011 11:58 AM
Roger from Washington, DC

If anything, more documentary films need narration from Werner Herzog.

Nov. 03 2011 11:57 AM
The Truth from Becky


Nov. 03 2011 11:55 AM
eligit from astoria NY

death penalty argument aside (although i am on his side of the argument).....werner herzog is fantastic.

Nov. 03 2011 11:54 AM
Pete from uws

I love WH...he's movie's are always absurd, funny, and strangely reverent and truly deep.

Nov. 03 2011 11:54 AM
john from office

Play a tape of the victims family please. Lots of poor people dont go out and kill people.

Nov. 03 2011 11:49 AM
Tara from Bronx

I am not ideologically opposed to the death penalty. But I do not think it should be utilized in a country such as the US that has such an unequal "justice" system.

Nov. 03 2011 11:47 AM
rachel from red hook

Thank you Mr. Herzog for your wonderful,provoking films. And thank you for making this movie on capital punishment here, and to articulate the position against it as you do. But I have a silly question: Did you really narrate that curious george story? We loved it, as did many of our friends.
all best --

Nov. 03 2011 11:46 AM

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