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At the Death House Door (2008)

n , a , Peter Gilbert , Steve James  |  NR |  DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: n, a
  • Directors: Peter Gilbert, Steve James
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: FACETS
  • DVD Release Date: June 23, 2009
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001XJNYWI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #138,637 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
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Editorial Reviews

Carroll Pickett served as minister to death row inmates at a Texas penitentiary for 15 years, believing that the death penalty was just. Then he met inmate Carlos de Luna. As he talked with de Luna and recorded his conversations on the day before de Luna s execution, Pickett came to believe that de Luna was innocent.
Unlike Hollywood movies, de Luna was executed anyway, sending Pickett on a gut-wrenching quest to uncover the facts surrounding the poor man s highly questionable arraignment.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Movie is about A True Modern Day Saint November 9, 2009
Format:DVD
While walking through my local library one day, I noticed a documentary. I love documentaries. I was bored and had nothing to do that night, so, I rented this movie. As it turns out, it was one of the best, most thought provoking documentaries I've ever seen. It's not full of excitement or anything like that, but very eye opening and pure, as is the man this movie is about.

AT THE DEATH HOUSE DOOR is about a reverend that was hired at a state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas in the late 70s or early 80s as the prison chaplain. His job was quickly changed to death row chaplain. To sum this man's job up is to say that he was responsible for making sure that the prisoner, on his last day of life, was not going to go in kicking and screaming. In other words, have that individual come to peace with dying and understanding what he or she has done wrong and hopefully, regardless of religous background, come to peace with spirituality or God. Along the way, he does a tape recording after their death for every one of the inmates that was executed describing in detail how the person was reacting. Some were more interesting than others. However, some of the deathrow inmates were innocent he felt and this deeply disturbed our heroic chaplain. It's an interesting story of one man's journey and how he dealt with the pain he was going through. In that time period, he witnessed dozens and dozens and dozens of executions until finally he resigned from the position and became an advocate against the death penalty.

This DVD is a touching story and I certainly suggest it. It truly is a 5-star documentary.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense and Thought Provoking!! November 3, 2010
Format:DVD
I just finished watching this documentary in my ethics class and it really made me think. Being from Texas, I have been in favor of the death penalty but this film has me questioning whether it is humane. After seeing the prosecution and later execution of Carlos DeLuna, I almost feel guilty for being in favor of capital punishment. After hearing Pickett recounting his experiences at the Death House is captivating and intense. He saw what no else did. He gained their trust and got to know them as people, not only criminals. He was with them in the final moments of there life, he witnessed them utter there last words and take their final breaths. So many times people write off criminals as scum that deserve to die but never stop to think about them as human beings. While there's no question that some deserve to be behind bars, when they die should not be up to anyone but God. This film also shows just how flawed our system is, wrongly putting people to death for crimes they did not commit is murder. Its one thing when you put someone in prison, only to find out they are innocent because at least they re still alive. When an innocent person is executed, there is no taking it back but yet the system sees it as a small mistake and sweeps it under the rug. Knowing that the wrong man was in prison, and yet executing him otherwise is incomprehensible. When DeLuna's sister came on, my heart broke. I put myself in her shoes, thinking, "how could I defend a system that took an innocent life?" What if it was my brother that was wrongly executed, how would I feel then? It really made me think. This film is highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking June 30, 2010
By ars21
Format:DVD
For many years now, I have been inconsistent about my view on the death penalty. What is so great about this documentary is that it beautifully mirrors my confusion - it raises questions without giving any clear cut answers. After viewing this film, I did a lot of research, curious to know whether it had the same impact on others that it had on me. Not surprisingly, it has been screened across the country since then, even on Capitol Hill, and has spurred on discussion between lawmakers, scholars and activists. For a unique and personal exploration into the concept of the death penalty, you MUST watch this film! I HIGHLY recommend it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Artful and Poignant April 14, 2010
Format:DVD
A unique and intimate perspective of the Death Penalty. When I think about all of the media that went into the making of this film, especially Pastor Pickett's tapes, I see God's divine plan at work. This documentary was born of inevitability. It is as much about the Death Penalty as it is an illustration of what a life lived for Christ truly looks like: painful, lonely at times, and full of priceless epiphanies. I show this film to my students whenever I teach the persuasive essay, and class discussion is always fruitful afterwards. A gorgeously rendered documentary that speaks to the heart and soul.
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5.0 out of 5 stars That's just two dead people January 7, 2014
Format:DVD
Yesterday I watched the 2008 documentary “At the Death House Door.” The film tells the story of Carroll Pickett, a chaplain at the notorious “Walls” prison in Huntsville Texas who, in the early 1980s, was recruited for being the chaplain for those condemned to death. His job was to stay with the prisoners from 6 AM to their execution shortly after midnight, to be their friend, spiritual confident, and parent (moments before death one inmate, a man who had had only an alcoholic stepfather, pathetically asks “Can I call you daddy when I die?”). But most of all, Pickett is trained to make the inmate compliant and peaceably resigned to his fate, a fate which very often would include excruciating pain and a desperately slow demise.

Pickett was born and raised to be a hard ass (if you’ll pardon the expression). Only his daughter has ever seen him cry, once. For awhile he was impacted by his grandfather’s philosophy “hang em high, hang em fast.”

Pickett is no longer of that opinion however. Part of the problem involves the execution of the innocent — the film spends some time on the tragic case of Carlos de Luna — but the problem is deeper than that. Even if you could ensure only guilty men die, Pickett now wants nothing to do with it. He now sees capital punishment as a wholly brutalizing practice. It’s that sick mentality that allows a nearby cafe to sell “murder burgers” and for the star attraction at the prison museum to be “Ole’ Sparky”, a retired electric chair. The daughter of a murdered woman summarizes the problem when, following the execution of her mother’s killer, she poignantly observes: “My mother’s dead. He’s dead. That’s just two dead people”

randalrauser.com
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