The debate about whether capital punishment should be used has raged incessantly since it was reinstituted in the Democratic United States in 1976. The latest statistics on the death penalty reveal that 71% of Americans favor it for citizens convicted of murder, while 26% oppose it. Although the United States doesn’t lead the world in total numbers of executions per year, it is within the top five. Of all the 38 states that still have capital punishment California leads with the most inmates on death row at 639 and Texas following with 447.
California along with a growing number of several other states is reluctant to carry out its executions with only 11 since reinstitution. Texas is the number one state that carries out its executions in the country with 339 executions since 1976. The second state leading in executions is Virginia with a substantially lower number of 94. With the advent of DNA the evidence of innocent citizens being put to death has come to light and calls for protest and even abolition of the death sentence. Austin being the capital of Texas rears a hotbed for protest against this policy of punishment Death Penalty Fact Sheet.Order now
In February of 2003, director Alan Parker with Dirty Hands Productions released The Life of David Gale, written by former philosophy professor Charles Randolph. The script was originally made to star co-producer Nicolas Cage before prior commitments. The Life of David Gale stars Kevin Spacey as Dr. David Gale, Laura Linney as a fellow anti-death penalty activist, Constance Harraway, and Kate Winslet as the popular journalist from a major news magazine, Bitsey Bloom “The Life of David Gale” All Movie Guide. I viewed this film in its entirety in DVD format on my notebook computer at work during the a. m. ours in March of 2005.
This fictional drama-thriller suggests the faults in the capital punishment policy. The film challenges to manner a murder mystery with deep idealistic thoughts on capital punishment, life’s purpose, and one’s profound suffrage for a cause. Dr. David Gale is a well established professor, author, and head of the philosophy department at University of Austin. He was also an active member of an anti-death penalty activist group called Deathwatch. The group is a fictional one but not uncommon to real life. There are present day activist groups similar to this one is Austin as well as around the country.
The professor’s life is turned upside down after a former student falsely accuses him of rape, latter regretting it, and his wife files for divorce and moves her and their son to Spain to live with her lover. After losing his position, reputation, and family he turns to alcohol for relief. When he seems to have hit bottom he is arrested and convicted for the rape and murder of his close friend Constance and sentenced to death. With only a few days until execution David requests an interview with a popular journalist named Bitsey Bloom.
After receiving some mysteriousevidence she is left with only days to uncover the truth about his innocence. Although the film is a fictional one, it does address a real issue in the air presently: Should capital punishment be abolished? Whether one’s for or against it, this movie should make one think about the issue but it tends to go a little further then it should. The script is way too slick to dignify Bitsey”s delusions or David”s professed idealism. The director never manages to conceal the method of deception that underbids this guilt-tripped story.
Mostly the characters were fictional in a real environment of politics in Texas. President Bush is depicted in the film as Texas Governor Hardin on a fictional television show debating capital punishment with David Gale Arnold. The film The Life of David Gale takes place in modern day Texas. David Gale was a professor at the University of Austin, which was a substituted for the University of Texas at Austin. It was filmed on location so the setting was really accurate for the campus scenes and the houses were represented true to the Austin area as well sighting the old houses in that community.
Even the taxicab company, Roy’s Taxi, was exact to the local businesses. The protests on campus and at the Capital Building were typical of what one might see regularly in the city of Austin. The city of Huntsville is placed in East Texas north of Houston. It is a relatively small town with a huge prison system sprawled out within the piney wooded area with two-lane bare roads connecting the different facilities. I have visited this particular penitentiary and would have to declare that this film truly depicted what its like to enter such an institution as the Huntsville Penitentiary.