Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman
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Albert Pierrepoint was the third man in his family to 'ascend' to the list of executioners (capital punishment in England at the time was by hanging), and when he is accepted to the list in 1932 he begins what became the longest and most prolific career of British executioners. He took enormous pride in his work, assuring his peers as well as his 'victims' that every aspect of his job was done with obsessive professionalism: his timing of his duties was the shortest on record, meaning that from the moment he opened the door to the condemned prisoner's room through the hooding and noose placement and tripping of the platform and subsequent death of the 'criminal', he spared suffering as much as was feasible. He was supported by a wife who kept the secret of her husband's anonymous role and it was only when the Pierrepoint's pride in his job became known that downfall of their lives is threatened. At times adored by the public for his assignment to hand the Nazi criminals and the famous murderers and eventually the target of the anti capital punishment activists, Pierrepoint's professionalism sustained him until a final tragic assignment changed his view of his job.
Timothy Spall is splendid as Pierrepoint, capturing all of the nuances of the simple, honest man's pride as well as his Achilles' heel.Read more ›
Albert Pierrepoint is determined to carry on in the time-honored tradition of his family. That's why, like his father and uncle before him, Pierrepoint has trained to become one of England's premier executioners, a man who approaches his grim job with the utmost professionalism, priding himself on using scientific precision to make his hangings the quickest and most "humane" in all the world. Indeed, with his careful calibrations and emotional detachment, he manages to turn capital punishment into nothing short of an art form. So sterling is his reputation, in fact, that he is called upon by none other than Field Marshall Montgomery himself to supervise the hanging of dozens of convicted Nazi leaders after the war. This elevates Pierrepoint to something of a national celebrity in the eyes of a war-weary, revenge-crazed public, a position he neither craves for himself nor truly knows how to cope with, for it calls into question the dignity of the entire profession.
Based on a true story, "Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman" offers a fascinating glimpse into a rarely explored, though frequently reviled, profession and the type of man best fit to carry it out. Filled with insight and depth and - dare we say it? - a certain amount of "gallow's humor," the movie makes no moral judgment on Pierrepoint as a person (at least until he does so himself); for much of the film, he is simply a man doing his job to the best of his capabilities, primarily concerned with making the exit from this world as speedy and painless a one for the men and women on the other end of the rope as is humanly possible.Read more ›
He took with pride and seriousness his duties. When called to perform a hanging he always took the train to the prison site, stayed a night, insisted upon a hot meal, and became so proficient he was able to move the prisoner from the holding cell to the gallows and then to the drop in an average of little more than 11 seconds. His best time was 7.5 seconds, but some believe this prisoner cooperated by stepping to the noose even faster than Pierrepoint. He believed that when a prisoner was hanged the person's guilt was cleansed. He treated the body with respect, cleaning it carefully (the relaxation of the sphincter muscles can sometimes cause a loss of dignity for the dead), and insisting on a coffin of proper size.
He was a dedicated practitioner of his craft.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A wonderful character study about a very proud and quiet man and how English society changes around him.Published 6 months ago by Stuart P.
This movie is based on the life of Great Britain's long-time official executioner Albert Pierrepoint. He followed his father and uncle as Great Britain's' hangman. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Henry Waterman
Great movie if one is like me and wants to see the unseen side of applying capital punishment.Published 21 months ago by Vernon McDonald