Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Death Row Cinema Show

Reading the story of a inmate on death row who asked to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy as his final request immediately made me think of what I would pick in that situation. Would I go for a film or film series with a long running time to prolong the inevitable, or would I opt for quality over quantity instead, or try for both?

The Lord of the Rings films actually seem like a reasonable choice and I would put in a cheeky request to have the director’s cut versions, which would bump the total viewing time up to another hour or two. I would probably be in the mood for some big Hollywood fantasy storytelling and these films would be perfect escapism, ideal I would have thought for someone in this awful situation. There are two problems here however. Due to Return of the King having a multitude of false ending, I can imagine the annoyance at constantly preparing myself to be collected from my cell, only to then be presented with another ten minute corny sequence of Samwise Gamgee or some other Hobbit, getting it on with, and marrying his female conquest back at the Shire. Also, due to the catharsis brought on by watching all three films together and the emotional send-off Frodo receives at the final, proper ending, I would be a right mess when the priest rocked up.

The Decalogue (Dekalog), consisting of ten one-hour films, each of which represents one of the Ten Commandments, would give me the time and intellectual nourishment I may require.  Created by the late Polish film-maker Krzysztof Kieślowski (for the uninitiated, Pulp Fiction beat his film, Three Colours Red, to the Palme d'Or in Cannes), it would be a long haul, but I would be watching a true master at work. The potentially big obstacle here would be in the form of the fifth part (re-titled A Short Film About Killing for theatrical release). It centres on a young man who murders a taxi driver and is eventually executed. This alone would be too much, but with another five to get though before permanent lights out, those hours could prove excruciating.

The Shawshank Redemption, a firm favourite amongst men of all social standing, is probably a little too obvious, plus the last thing you would want to see on death row (and indeed prison) would be an escape to freedom, complete with a nice boat in a sunny climate and Morgan Freeman for permanent company.

Ultimately, I think I would have to go the safe route and pick the original Star Wars trilogy (or if they wanted to save time and money on my execution, I could watched Jar-Jar and co. too which would probably spur me on to take my own life). One of my earliest memories was a trip to the cinema to see A New Hope and as my life would end after seeing the rebels defeat the evil empire and party down at Endor in Return of the Jedi, there would be a nice symmetry here.

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