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The Laramie Project

100 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Laramie Project, The (DVD)

In October 1998, 21 year-old Mathew Shepard was found savagely beaten, tied to a fence and left to die in Laramie, Wyoming. "The Laramie Project" is the portrait of a town painfully forced to confront itself in the reflective glare of the national spotlight, responding with love, anger, sympathy, support and defiance.


Even though The Laramie Project has been edited down from almost three hours (the original length of the play) to a lean 96 minutes, the harrowing nature of the subject matter--the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard--and the clarity of the voices of the inhabitants of Laramie, Wyoming, give this film a remarkable emotional power. The Laramie Project was created from over 200 interviews conducted with Laramie residents before, during, and after the trials of the two boys who killed Shepard; the interviews create an amazing cross-section of American views on homosexuality, religion, class, privacy, and so much more besides. Even though it features an all-star cast--Steve Buscemi, Janeane Garofalo, Christina Ricci, Peter Fonda, and Laura Linney are only a few of the recognizable faces--the material has not been glamorized and the performances are both honest and intimate. Even abbreviated, it's a remarkable piece of work. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Various
  • Directors: Various
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French, English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: June 6, 2006
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000067D0Y
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,143 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Laramie Project" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

95 of 109 people found the following review helpful By Lillian Patterson on September 21, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
Perhaps you have to have some prior knowledge of the subject matter of this film in order to properly appreciate it. ... I don't think so, but maybe I'm wrong. As a person, a human being, hearing the words of actual human beings who are trying to sort through their feelings after a tragedy, I would have been moved had I known nothing of the death of Matthew Shepard (as it is, I knew very little before viewing this movie).
What initially attracted me to this film was the fact that it was an HBO production, and I've seen several quality HBO productions in the past. I'd heard a little about the Matthew Shepard case, and I wanted to know more. So I saw the film.
First, this film isn't really a documentary-it's a dramatazation of interviews and conversations that members of a New York theatre troupe conducted with citizens of Laramie, Wyoming These interviews served as the basis for the play "The Laramie Project." It's a little distracting at first, because the film is shot in documentary-style and yet the people who are supposed to be citizens of the town are recognizable actors and actresses (such as Steve Buscemi and Christina Ricci). And I wondered how much of the dialogue was real and how much was fictional. But once I got over those concerns, I became engrossed in the story (after all, movies are fiction anyway). And what a story. For those who don't know, Matthew Shepard was a 21 year old college student who was brutally beaten and left for dead in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998. The young men who attacked him were Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney. Shepard was in a coma for a week before he died on October 12, 1998. Shepard was [homosexual], and his killers claimed that he'd made passes at them, and so they decided to drive him to the edge of town, tie him up, and beat him.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Holliston on December 10, 2003
Format: DVD
Matthew Shepard's murder affected me very strongly and still does. I could have seen the stage version of this piece, as I was in New York when it was playing, but was too afraid (for the same reason, I haven't seen Boys Don't Cry). And this apparently truncated HBO version is a very tough film to watch.
It's excellent despite limitations imposed, we may assume, by the complex finances of TV. The cast is uniformly fine - I especially loved Margo Martindale, Terry Kinney (who would have given a shattering reading of Mr. Dennis Shepard's complete courtroom speech), Dylan Baker, Laura Linney, Amy Madigan and Frances Sternhagen, but everyone just GAVE so much! (I know other reviewers have carped about some of the performances, and I think it's worth pointing out that these actors donated their services to this project.)
The people of Wyoming are not treated patronizingly - the film contains, in fact, a thinly veiled indictment of the 1998 media which did sometimes treat these people as hicks. And the script, of course, is based on transcripts from interviews with these people, and like interviews with anyone, there are idiosyncracies and lapses in grammar. Of course there are rednecks - as there are in Los Angeles or even Manhattan. But the citizens of Laramie overwhelmingly recoil from this senseless tragedy, and the most horrifying character - aside from the killers, and maybe even more than them - is "Reverend" Fred Phelps, as he was at the time - and he's an outsider.
One person is conspicuously absent from this film, and that is Matthew Shepard. The Laramie Project is about the reaction of citizens to the brutality of his murder and the response of that city to the influx of international media attention.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By I. Sondel VINE VOICE on February 15, 2004
Format: DVD
My hat goes off to Mr. Kaufman and his associates for developing this truly inspired document. It's hard to believe but I've heard people ask "what makes this individual case more important than others." Nothing and everything. It's a tragedy whenever a life is taken, but when the only motivation is hate it impacts everyone. Great performances are plentiful here - and a number of our finest players make the most of beautifully written roles - Kathleen Chalfant, Steve Buscemi, Frances Sternhagen, Laura Linney, Christina Ricci and (my favorite) Bill Irwin. Don't miss this one.
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Seeg on November 10, 2004
Format: DVD
The 1998 gay hate crime murder of, Matthew Shepard, really hurt many people around the world, including myself. The very fact that this sweet young man, so slight in height and weight, with an angelic face could be kidnapped by two idiot kids, tied to a spit rail wooden fence and pistol whipped and tortured until his skull was literally bashed with fractures, and then left there to die, tied to that fence for 18 hours in the near freezing temperatures until a bicyclist came upon him. Matthew was at this time, in a coma, and for 4 days the world watched, waited, and hoped he would recover. Matthew did not. He died October 12th, 1998 in the hospital.This film, through a series of massive interviews with the residents of this town, is done in a documentary style, with the actors repeating the words collected in those interviews.It is very well made, very powerful and also very very sad. They filmed this in the actual town. You get to see the inside of the bar Matt was in before his abduction, as well as the college he attended, the rail fence he was tied to (THANK GOD NO MURDER IS RE-CREATED HERE), as well as the actual courtroom the trial took place at.Hopefully, people who are homophobic can see by watching this film, people are people--no matter if they are of a different race or sexual orientation.We all need to stand UNITED, encourage state laws to include zero tolerance of gay hate crimes.Matthew Shepard did not deserve to die. If anything good can come from such an evil thing that happened, let's hope this movie can open some eyes and we can stop the hate and innocent people being murdered.
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