Wednesday, April 6, 2011

This Thing of Darkness I Acknowledge Mine

This could be my most polarizing post yet. I can honestly see all of my thousands of hundreds of ten readers flying off the handle in fits of complete electronic anarchy as they debate the merits of the film I'm reviewing today. Of course, because my readers hate me, they won't have this war on my comment board. If you guys would like a primer on the different types of venom you might want to spew, please take a look at this. [EDITOR'S NOTE: If you guys do choose to have your war on my comment board, please note that I will delete and eradicate all hate speech. Then I'll probably make fun of you publicly. You have been warned.]

My father was the warden of the prison (he is on the other side of the fence these days) showcased in this documentary and I've grown up around the prison life, so perhaps my views will be totally different from everyone else who watches this movie. I will say this, the filmmakers who brought us this 93-minute miracle are fantastic artists and even better people. They were brave enough to 

  1. Show up and tell this story 
  2. Get inside the hearts and minds of these inmates 
  3. Do all of this responsibly. Responsible to their art and, more importantly, responsible to the inmates and staff of Luther Luckett Correctional Complex
They should be commended without end for this work. To take 170 hours, yes HOURS, of footage and be able to cut and whittle it down to 93 riveting minutes is nothing short of extraordinary and they have my utmost respect.

It should be noted that a friend of mine who watched the film described my dad thusly: "...he was adorable, in a warden sort of way." While I agree that just about every act in the last 30 years of his life has been done "in a warden sort of way", I have never, ever found him to be adorable. One time, in 2002, I think he was endearing but they may have just been gas. The astute observer will notice my high school senior picture just behind my dad, in a scene filmed in his office. It saddens me to think that that picture is 14 5 years old. I can't believe I'm already 22.

I saw this film under circumstances that only a very, very few were able to experience. I was at the inmate screening. I was in
the same room with these men as they watched their hearts being poured out on screen. I saw men crying on television crying in the chair in front of me and let me tell you, it was a very profound experience. These men have committed horrendous crimes, yet have found ways to try to forgive themselves, even if they believe they are irredeemable. How many of us have the same courage? How many people could do what they have done in such a harsh environment? To see them react to the film was an experience I am eternally grateful for, and I will never forget that. I thank the men who allowed me this glimpse into their lives, I thank my father for making ALL of this possible, Curt Tofteland for his tireless efforts, and I thank Philomath Films for taking the time to pour their blood, sweat, soul, and tears into this project.

This movie will change everything you think you know about prison life, and the inmates held within it. Movies are not real, television is not real. Shakespeare Behind Bars is.

When you're done with that, go here for the latest update on the men featured in the film.*There will be two updates that you may not be able to see if you're using a browser other than IE;  just highlight text and drag down to see the last two* 

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