6 June 2007 | kevgavin
As much to do with living as death
I'd just been through a run of watching many poorly made, uninspiring and disappointing films in the last year, then luckily I saw this film Pierrepoint aka The Last Hangman which restored my faith in cinema.
Like all excellent films, it a simple story, expertly performed by a very strong cast. The other great element of a quality film is that it can be interpreted in many different ways by its viewers.
It shouldn't be explained as a portrayal of a man who hanged people although that is exactly what he did, what made him famous and what he will be remembered for.
For me Pierrepoint is more about working life. The job was always going to be a vocation as his father had been a hangman before him and he wanted to live up to a man he admired. We see the ends that he goes to, to be the best in his chosen field and I must admit I thought this was shown brilliantly; his care, his attention to the task, his desire to see the job done right. In the period of time that this story is set your job was something you took pride in not something you exploited to get better money and benefits while doing as little effort as possible.
It is impossible to be completely accurate when making a biographical film as you are condensing a persons lifetime into a couple of hours of screen time so therefore the director, writers, editor and producers need to shorten, edit and take a certain amount of artistic license.
Fortunately I knew nothing about Albert Pierrepoint before I watched this film so I didn't know what had been left in and left out of this account of his life, since then I talked to my father who knew many things about the man as he had lived and worked in London just after hanging was abolished and had seen Pierrepoint interviewed. He told me about a few things that weren't shown in the film, things that would have given my father an opinion about what type of person this famous hangman was. I've asked my father to see the film as I want to know how the celluloid depiction compares to his memories of the real man; even if he believes it to be inaccurate I'll still watch it again.
It is a dark, sad film which wouldn't be a great date movie but maybe a film you should watch the next time you have a bad day at work.