September 19, 2005

Robbins and Prejean, Dead Man Walking: The Shooting Script -- Drama as Literature (EL 250)

He is pointing to the sign nailed high up in the tree.

Prejean: Do not despair, you will soon be there.

Hilton: Somebody knows this road real, real well.

Perhaps the most poignant moment in the script is when Prejean and Hilton address the sign in the tree. On so many levels, they are talking about the events surrounding why they are together that day, and they are talking about the road of life. Robbins did not make this script a rally cry against the death penalty, or an obvious protest. Rather Robbins asks his audience to think about the consequences that accompany said crime, as well as how the death penalty affects all parties involved. He portrays the inmates, the guards, and the opposing families, as well as Prejean. The emotional toll for supporters and dissenters runs high and causes tensions to swell in the community. This scene is indicative of the trouble to follow, and the way that people look at life – like a long and winding road.

It is borderline cliché that he chooses a road to symbolize life, but at the same time, it is applicable to the situation because the criminals make a wrong in committing the crimes they committed. It seems as though Matt has a compassionate mother, but somewhere along the line got involved in a series of terrible things that led to his subsequent death. The sign indicates the coming of the end, as well as perhaps the forgiveness Matt needs to have in his life. The sign also invites the audience to forgive their enemies because we will all soon be there. Everyone has a day of judgment, and it is up to the self to choose how it will be reckoned.

Posted by KatieAikins at September 19, 2005 3:32 PM

I agree with you because I think that the author did put muc symbolism in this story. I felt that it was not just about a criminal and his death, it was much more than that. He talked about Matt's family and had him call them the night before he was going to die. The author wanted to get into the heads of everyone who saw this or read the script. It was emotional and it had my questioning my beliefs and feelings towards criminals.

Posted by: Gina at September 20, 2005 1:44 PM

I think this is one of the reasons this story is so charming. It is sad and I have some of my own beliefs about the death penalty, but this script/movie isn't preachy or moralistic. Like you said, Robbins just presents the tale and allows the audience to think for themselves.

Posted by: Katie Lambert at September 20, 2005 5:23 PM

Gina and Katie -----

Do you think that makes the story more effective? Our thoughts are maybe changed and at the very least, we are left thinking.

Posted by: Katie Aikins at September 22, 2005 10:59 AM