Dead Man Walking is American crime drama film of 1995 featuring Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon, and directed by Tim Robbins, who adapted the screenplay from the non-fiction book of the same name written by Sister Helen Prejean. The movie is about Sister Helen (played by Sarandon) who builds a special relationship with Matthew Poncelet (played by Penn) who is a prisoner waiting for his death execution in Louisiana. Sister Helen acts like his spiritual adviser after continuing exchanging letters with him.
Matthew Poncelet has been in prison for six years. He is waiting for his execution after being sentenced to death for murdering a teenage couple. Poncelet, who is kept in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, did the crimes with Carl Vitello, who was condemned to life imprisonment. As the day of Poncelet’s execution comes closer, he asks Sister Helen, with whom he has corresponded, to assist him to file a final appeal. Sister Helen is a Catholic nun and an opponent of the death penalty. She became Poncelet’s spiritual mentor, so that he repented and received a remission of sins.
She decides to visit him and finds him to be sexist, arrogant, and racist, not even pretending to be sorry. He claims to be innocent, insisting that Vitello killed the two teenagers. Sister Helen attempts to change his death penalty to life imprisonment. After several visits, she builds a special relationship with him. She meets Poncelet’s mother and the families of the victims. The families do not understand why Sister Helen wants to help Poncelet – they say she is on his side. They want him to be punished and require complete justice – he needs to be executed and give his life for the lives of their children.
Sister Helen’s application for an appeal is declined. Poncelet asks Sister Helen to act as his spiritual adviser on the day of execution, and she agrees. She tells him that he can be forgiven only if he takes responsibility for what he did. When he is taken from the cell, he admits to Sister Helen that he killed the boy and raped the girl. Right before the execution he asks the boy’s father for forgiveness and hopes that his death would bring peace to the girl’s parents. Poncelet is executed by lethal injection and then he was properly buried. At his funeral the boy’s father still feels hatred towards him, but the movie ends with him praying with Sister Helen.
Dead Man Walking is American crime drama film of 1995 featuring Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon, and directed by Tim Robbins, who adapted the screenplay from the non-fiction book of the same name written by Sister Helen Prejean.