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Serving Life (2011)

Forest Whitaker , Lisa R. Cohen  |  NR |  DVD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Forest Whitaker
  • Directors: Lisa R. Cohen
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Virgil Films and Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 17, 2012
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0063HO5C8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,737 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Serving Life is the first OWN original documentary and is executive produced by Academy Award® winner Forest Whitaker. The film takes viewers inside Louisiana's maximum security prison at Angola, where the average sentence is more than 90 years. The prisoners within its walls are the worst of the worst - rapists, kidnappers and murderers. With prison sentences so long, 85 percent will never again live in the outside world. Instead, they will grow old and die in Angola. Serving Life documents an extraordinary hospice program where hardened criminals care for their dying fellow inmates. In doing so, they embark on a journey that may end in personal rehabilitation.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good July 11, 2013
By Angela
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This program was really thought provoking. Generally, society likes to label incarcerated people as being bad and unfeeling. This show demonstrates how untrue labels can be. The documentary spotlights a hospice program in Angola. Other prisons around the country have similar programs. It is a study in compassion and redemption.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Serving Life September 9, 2012
By Shooby
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This documentary on how prisoners become
Hospice volunteers within prison is excellent. The stories of four such volunteers
Is so moving and informative. It is also most inspirational in the special story of Kevin
Hollingsworth who becomes a hospice patient. It witnesses his conversion in prison
Which inspires prisoner volunteers to rethink their attitudes, actions and values.
Feeling Compassion for those terminal hospice patients and an understanding of what
Prisoners learn keeping vigil with one who is dying can help open minds and hearts
Of those not in prison who don't have much good to say about lifers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars had to own this! July 9, 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I ordered this DVD after watching the film on OWN with commercial interruptions. Even with interruptions, this was such a lesson in love, compassion and redemption. The language is very raw, but is essential to the film's integrity. After hearing horror stories about Angola Prison for many years, the story of these men was shocking. The warden is to be greatly admired for recognizing this need and implementing the means to meet it. I plan to show it at my church in the near future.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awakening! October 19, 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is quite the inspiring documentary. Very well done. It gives humanity to men considered like mistakes in our society.
You will end up wondering if we had programs available for our young people (the one susceptible to take a wrong turn) to have a similar experience, would we have so much crime in our country....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
An amazing life-changing chronicle. The theme- finding hope and spiritual meaning through service to others. This documentary examines the extremes- men who are incarcerated for life for heinous crimes against their fellow man- murder, armed robbery and such are learning to give and find God through service to the dying. Life imprisonment is an ultimate existential crisis- what is the meaning of my life, why am I here? It also challenges us "free persons" to look at the concepts of jain, incarceration, life imprisonment, the death penalty, redemption, punishment, penal code, protecting society and so on. The prison Warden says something to this effect in the film- these are old men, dying men, no longer predators; what are they doing living and dying here?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great documentary!!! May 7, 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Of all the documentaries I've ever watched this would rate in the top 5!

Allowing prisoners to look after dying inmates is probably the best form of rehabilitation there is.
You get the feeling these prisoners are their for a reason and have the opportunity to work off their karma directly and effectively.

This documentary is well made and covers all areas of this topic very well.
The interviews are candid and extremely honest, you can really see the huge changes taking place in the prisoners as they go through this process.

I'm looking forward to watching it again.

A must see documentary.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best films I've seen April 14, 2014
Format:DVD
This film is so good because the questions it asks which are behind the story are universal and powerful ones- Is there any hope for those folks who have done scary bad stuff? How alike or different am I really from someone bad? Why does our US justice system sentence crimes using formulas (like 3 strikes you're out for drug offenses and mandatory minimums) instead of applying specific justice to each case?

Also I was amazed at the living story director Lisa R. Cohen was able to capture on film. You literally see life happen and change while watching. And the bravery and disclosures of the men filmed- to themselves, each other, and to us... Powerful and generous. The synergy of these things is what makes this film life impacting and memorable.

But there is a bad part to the DVD packaging. I am glad Oprah Winfrey is promoting this film. The distribution this insures is well deserved by this film. But why did I have to get on Google before I ever found out the name of the director? Oprah's branding is so complete that her presence seems to have pushed out even a little nod to the person who actually made the film, director Lisa Cohen. Producer Forest Whitaker gets his name in there; he is the narrator and producer. But the crafter of this great work goes nameless on the dvd box and is not mentioned anywhere on it except maybe somewhere in that tiny blurry print at the dvd box back bottom, but I would wager not many souls can read that without a magnifying glass. Even Rosie O'Donnell gets her name on the box because it says she and Oprah provide introductions to the film. They don't! Their introductions are about Oprah launching the OWN documentary club. Since this is the first film presented by the OWN Doc club, which has started with such a good choice, the omission of the actual filmmaker should be addressed for future film presentations as to give the artists credit and recognition for their worthy work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
“SERVING LIFE” is a very powerful and moving documentary (bring tissues) about hospice care inside a maximum security prison in the States, where inmates care for the terminally-ill, with hardened criminal volunteers - both Christian and Muslim - showing deep compassion and finding spiritual redemption when dealing with death.

Produced by Oprah Winfrey's OWN Network, and narrated by Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker.

Interfaith Focus (charity) screens it at its Interfaith Film Festivals, where it is well-received.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Whitaker and his one eye stare always a good actor.
Published 20 days ago by Bob B.
5.0 out of 5 stars As I wrote to a man serving time in Angola ...
As I wrote to a man serving time in Angola, I had to purchase this. While it is true, most inmates are doing life, the man I wrote to did get his freedom.
Published 2 months ago by Caitlin Metcalf
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Well done & insightful
Published 2 months ago by Gary Dunn
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Expected!
I work in hospice and this is one of the best documentaries I have seen. I am the volunteer coordinator and use this DVD in my trainings as well as in-services. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving and hope-filled documentary
This movie is a must-watch. It reveals a side of our penal system that we don't see on the news.
Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Excelent!
I can't rate this movie any higher! Absolutely wonderful, the rest of the nation should take lessons on warden Burl Cain. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Eagle's
5.0 out of 5 stars Great film!
I know it sounds strange but if found myself really moved by these men being able to give so much to another person in their situation. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Malinda
5.0 out of 5 stars Changing lives through God's grace and forgiveness!
Wonderful uplifting story of inmates in prison being Hospice workers for their fellow prisoners. No one is beyond the reach of God and it is only through Him that lives can truly... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Neil D Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye opening...
It was interesting to see another side of a person serving a prison sentence. It's really sad to see people in hospice care in prison, but it's nice to so that some inmates... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Tatiana F. Magana
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!
Everyone should watch this film. I have visited Angola prison and seen first-hand the magic that Warden Cain has been able to produce there. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Louann Weber
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