Inspired by a true story. A petty criminal sent to Alcatraz in the 1930s is caught attempting to make an escape. As punishment he is put in solitary confinement. The maximum stay is supposed to be 19 days, but Henri spends years alone, cold and in complete darkness, only to emerge a madman and soon to be a murderer. The story follows a rookie lawyer attempting to prove that Alcatraz was to blame.
|Release Date||:||January 20, 1995|
|Production Company||:||Wolper Organization, Warner Bros.|
|Production Countries||:||France, United States of America|
|Casts||:||Christian Slater, Kevin Bacon, Gary Oldman, Embeth Davidtz, William H. Macy, Stephen Tobolowsky, Brad Dourif, Kyra Sedgwick, Mia Kirshner|
|Plot Keywords||:||prison, prisoner, death row, alcatraz, lawyer, courtroom, murder trial, 1940s, mistreatment, public defender, prisoner abuse|
This appears to be a prison movie about the injustices inflicted upon a hapless inmate named Henri Young. In reflection it is actually about friendship and the every day things we take for granted. At the heart of this movie, Kevin Bacon's character, Young, asks Christian Slater's character, Stamphill, if they were on the outside, would they be friends? He answers without much thought, yes, of course. Then Bacon says, I could've been like you. He sees in this young attorney, his own life & what it might have been if not for $5. He asks Slater, did you ever steal $5? Of course he had, from his brother, who told him never to do it again. Henri Young's punishment was to go to a federal penitentiary where upon trying to escape, he was "sentenced" or left to die, for 3 long years in solitary confinement. Young's character has never been with a woman and he's 28 years old. In a very moving scene (wisely done without music, although the music in this movie is beautiful) Stamphill brings a woman into the cell in an attempt to give him a few moments as a man. Unfortuantely, he cannot even bring himself to enjoy this - the look on his face will absolutely make you break down and cry. The performances by everyone are terrific. Contrary to previous reviewers, there is nothing wrong with Slater's performance. Thankfully, it is understated as it should be. Also, it should be rather obvious, that with a role this meaty & important, Bacon's outstanding performance is likely to make any other actor in the same scene, seem less of an accomplishment. This is definately Kevin Bacon's most important role and should have garnered an Oscar nomination. This is a not to be missed movie- and wouldn't you know it, it's based on a true story. In the end, it's about a triumph of the human spirit. I was lucky enough to see this at the theater when it first came out- you're lucky because it's available on video- go rent it tonight if you're interested in a good story.