Film Review: Death Penalty Is Final Punishment

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Death penalty is final punishment that can be given to a culprit. It is also called the capital punishment, which is legal retribution where the state authorizes to kill a person for his crimes. The Death penalty can be given for committing capital crimes such as killing, massacre, and war crimes among other crimes. While the human right associations are demanding to abolish the practice, there are still many countries practicing death penalty. There have been many movies, novels, dramas, and stories created on criminals who are subjected to capital punishment. It also significantly affects those that have served in the staff taking part in the execution as well. There are several means to execute a person including hanging, poisoning, and electric shocks and the movie revolves around the hanging method and its psychological and social effects. 'The Last Hangman' is one such movie that narrates how a person is executed.

Summary of the Film

The movie "The Last Hangman" is based on the life of an executioner Albert Pierrepoint. The movie is directed by Adrian Shergold and produced by Christine Langan. The story of the movie is written by Jeff Pope and Bob Mills. Pierrepoint is the last member in the family of famous British slayers that were trained to execute the criminals subjected to capital punishment. The job of executioner is too stressful because it is not easy even for a stonehearted person to take someone's life who did nothing wrong to him (the executioner). The mother of Pierrepoint tells him how the life of his father was affected by joining this career. She tells him that the father developed bad habits to overcome his depression, but he ruined his life and that of his family. Despite the warnings of his mother, Pierrepoint joins the profession because he thinks he can do a better job and can get promotions. This is what Pierrepoint proves at the job as well. He executes war heroes and thus earns the respect of the nation. However, Brasfield (2000) says as the crowd moves on, they forget those hanged and the ones that hanged them. Pierrepoint shows real 'professionalism' in his attitude all during his service, but by the time he resigns in 1955, the blood of over 600 people in his hands has made him a different person. The final person he had to hang was Ruth Ellis. Since execution had become a national concern by then and people started discouraging capital punishment and because Ellis was a woman, the national sentiments were different. People found it inhumane to hang criminals, and the capital punishment was about to be abolished.

Pierrepoint believed that his job was simply another profession and that his life will not be affected by the job. At this point, he forgets that killing and execution involves factors that affect mental health (Tobolowsky, 2006). His wife was supportive, and she helped him because he had opportunities. He had the opportunities to kill the war criminals and he was proud of setting his emotions aside while executions. However, the human emotions cannot be frozen forever. Hence, with time he felt that the executed bodies are not held properly. Pierrepoint demands that the bodies of the criminals should be covered in coffins since they have paid the final price. Very slowly Pierrepoint realizes that the job is stressful, and the epic of stress is felt when the orders are received to kill his once friend James Corbitt. Corbitt is a nice person but his revengeful feelings led him to kill his ex-lover. While Pierrepoint does his job of executing, his life again feels a jerk, and he questions his job once again. While executing his friend, Pierrepoint breaks his professional values and politely talks to his friend. He needs someone to talk about it, but his wife gets angry because it was their rule not to talk about their jobs. The final execution of Pierrepoint, Ellis could not get him fame, but turned him into a saddest. The once prideful record of fastest ever-hanging record that was 7.5 seconds held no meaning. He felt more stressed which proves that the mental health is effected in the execution chambers (Tobolowsky, 2006) whether it is mental health of those thousands of people waiting for their execution with a little hope of life or those that are about to execute them.

Connection of the Film to Course Material

The movies are normally depiction of what happens in a society. From love to elections to revenge and capital punishment, everything that is a part of society becomes or can potentially become the subject of a movie. Capital punishment is one such practice that has been implemented in almost all the societies. Yet, many others believe that capital punishment should be demolished. People like Juan Roberto M. Colon say that they were released after getting a death sentence based on the evidence that was not DNA based (Colon, 2010). Thus, there is always a chance that a death sentence is erroneous. Hence, the death sentence is discouraged by many experts and human rights activists.

The movie can be connected to the course since the movie followed same sequence of events, which include the historic steps that took place in the capital punishment. The history of execution is full of pride of the people for executing war criminals, but then they realized that execution is a stonehearted job where people lack feelings for fellow humans.

History

The capital punishment was nothing new in civilized countries and it has existed since history. However, the modes of execution have evolved with time. The history of capital punishment in America shows that initially the people killed included the witches, pirates and the slaves. With time when the three categories were eliminated from the country, the hatred of people for the criminals also decreased, and they demanded to put an end to the death penalty. Unlike the movie, that shows only one method of execution, the history of capital punishment shows that hanging was followed by electric shocks and the poisonous injections. Thus, the history of capital punishment starts with a support and encouragement and ends at defame and discouragement. There is the rise and fall of every unjust system and this too happened to the capital punishment. The capital punishment is no more encouraged in the civilized world and from American leadership to public; everyone is rethinking the death penalty (Cannon, 2000).

Modern Capital Punishment Process

In the movie, the capital punishment is given by hanging a person. The sentiments of people are different for different execution types too. The hanging takes lesser time in killing than electric shocks and is less painful. The movie does not explain the other methods of execution that are even more stressing. The electrocution, for example, results in to burning of tissues that fill the room with a horrible smell (Death penalty information center, 2013). While a person is affected by killing someone alike but the intensity of stress is far more when the criminal is killed through a more painful method. In addition, the modern capital punishment methods are quite expensive, and they are costlier than the life imprisonment (Delcour, 2011).

Humane / Not Humane

Very few professions respect the existence of human beings. Most of them evaluate clients on the scale of money they have, but the prison is the institute that will rank highest in treating a person in an inhumane manner. It is very hard for someone to accept that his or her job is cruel. The movie shows how a person claims that his job is right initially and how the realities of his job reveal to him with time. The overall job of killing a person is inhumane, though unavoidable at many times such as in war. The movie shows that the job is too critical as it often requires killing friends. It cannot be said that killing through hanging is humane.

Fair Punishment

It seems that often capital punishment is the only way to compensate families of the murdered. Yet many a times the death punishment seems to be unfair, and it is often mistaken. The family of the one that is murdered is not the only stakeholder. The capital punishment system is unfair in treating and consoling the family of inmate charged with capital punishment as well (Bandes, 2009). The person killing too many people intentionally cannot be equal to a person killing someone unintentionally.

The movie does not portray the job as overall fair. It does mention that the war criminals are killed through hanging, but the hero does support that even the war criminals have the basic human rights and treatment of criminal before and after must be fair. The behavior towards the criminal with capital punishment is often too inhumane that even the staff feels it and discourages it. The attitude towards the women, minorities, and everyone else is inhumane in capital punishment. Even when Ellis is hanged, the staff of the prison… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Death Penalty Is Final Punishment.  (2013, November 27).  Retrieved June 17, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/death-penalty-final-punishment/6726512

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