7.6/10
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Dead Man Walking (1995)

A nun, while comforting a convicted killer on death row, empathizes with both the killer and his victim's families.

Director:

Writers:

(book) (as Sister Helen Prejean C.S.J.),
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 20 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Captain Beliveau
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Warden Hartman
Ray Aranha ...
Luis Montoya
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Guy Gilardi
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Storyline

A convicted murderer on Death Row and the nun who befriends him. Through the portrayal of finely drawn characters and their interactions as the days, hours, and minutes tick down to the condemned man's execution, powerful emotions are unleashed. While Matthew Poncelet and Sister Prejean desperately try to gain a stay of execution from the governor or the courts, scenes are intercut from the brutal crime, gradually revealing the truth about the events that transpired. In addition to her temporal help, the nun also tries to reach out spiritually and assist as a guide to salvation. Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for a depiction of a rape and murder | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

2 February 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La dernière marche  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$11,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$3,571,599 (USA) (2 February 1996)

Gross:

$39,387,284 (USA)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Helen Prejean: The real Sister Helen appears outside the prison during a candlelight vigil scene. See more »

Goofs

When Sister Helen is being pulled over for speeding, the camera shows the view through the rear view mirror. In this shot, the cop car behind her is driving on a straight road with a dashed center line. The next shot show's both cars on a curved portion of the road with a solid/dashed (passing) center line. See more »

Quotes

Prison guard: Tell me something sister, what is nun doing in a place like this. Shouldn't you be teaching children? Didn't you know what this man has done? How he killed them kids?
Sister Helen Prejean: What he was involved with was evil. I don't condone it. I just don't see the sense of killing people to say that killing people's wrong.
Prison guard: You know what the Bible say, 'An eye for an eye'.
Sister Helen Prejean: You know what else the Bible ask for death as a punishment? For adultery, prostitution, homosexuality, trespass upon sacred grounds, profane in a...
[...]
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Crazy Credits

In the heart-shaped symbol at the end of the credits, the initials EMLA, JHR, MGR, and SS stand for Tim Robbins' family with Susan Sarandon (SS) -- Jack Henry Robbins and Miles Guthrie Robbins (their two sons together) and Eva Maria Livia Amurri (Sarandon's daughter with Franco Amurri). See more »

Connections

Referenced in NCIS: Twisted Sister (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Shadow
(1993)
Performed & Written by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Courtesy of Real World Records Ltd.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Dead Man's Last Words
12 November 2008 | by (Fraggle Rock) – See all my reviews

Tim Robbins's 'Dead Man Walking' is a brave piece of cinema. Though the film is about a man on death row and a nun's struggle to help him, I liked how he presented both sides of the central theme of capital punishment. This isn't a preachy film about capital punishment being wrong or right as I doubt one's opinion would change on that after watching the movie. But, it's more of a subtle movie that tells the story of two people who form an unlikely friendship.

This couldn't have been an easy film to make yet he manages to pull it off. Poncelet is a ruthless murderer and in no way does Robbins condone what he has done but he and actor Sean Penn manage to win Poncelet the viewer's sympathy. The execution is terrific. The last scene particularly stands out. We see, in flashback, what had happened while Poncelet meets his ultimate fate. We see how he and Helen make the final connection, we see remorse in his eyes, we see him dying a slow death and at the same time the horror of the crime is exposed to us. We know that what he did is unforgivable but he finally took responsibility for that which allows us to see him as a human being rather than a ruthless killer. This also makes the whole tragedy more astonishing because you just ponder, like Sister Helen, on how such a normal human being commit such a heinous deed?

Both Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon deliver powerful performances. We pretty much see most of the film from Helen's point of view. Sarandon clearly has put a lot of heart into the role as she skillfully downplays her part showing tremendous depth and pathos. Sean Penn plays his difficult complex character with ease. The supporting cast do well (watch out for a young Jack Black and Peter Sarsgaard).

The score is mesmerizing, especially the Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan tracks. I also felt that sense of isolation that was brought out in the prison scenes. The terrific writing grips the viewer's attention right from the start. Even though we can predict Poncelet's fate, we are drawn into the fascinating transforming journey of these two intriguing characters.


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