Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life Reviews
Any subject Werner Herzog wants to explore is surely worthy of our interest. And his latest documentary is a characteristically insightful study of human nature.
I've long felt Herzog's personality is compelling and penetrating, and in evidence I could offer this film about Texans who are so different from the West German director.
Not since Errol Morris' masterwork of investigative documentary, "The Thin Blue Line," has a filmmaker had such an easy time of making the death penalty-crazed state of Texas look quite so casually venal.
The title of this Werner Herzog documentary may suggest another expedition to the ends of the earth, but what concerns him here is the moral abyss of capital punishment and the metaphysical abyss of death itself.
The abyss here isn't capital punishment, the ostensible subject of the film; it's the seemingly unending capacity for causing and enduring pointless misery that humans seem to have.
Herzog is pursuing no agenda with Into the Abyss, despite his opposition to extreme judicial measures. He's seeking to answer the question of why people kill, especially in a situation such as this where the reason for the murders was so meaningless.
Regardless of your own stance on the death penalty, it's impossible not to be shaken by the senseless loss depicted in "Into the Abyss," the overwhelming sadness, but also the possibility of spiritual redemption.