Murder in the first
This beautifully directed 1995 Marc Rocco film starring Kevin Bacon and Christian Slater is a powerful yet true story about an unlikely friendship between an inmate and his attorney.
A heart-wrenching story about the torture and struggles one man faced during his sentence at the most notorious prison in America, Alcatraz. It follows the life of Henri Young (Kevin Bacon) who was put in solitary confinement for a period of 3 years, which in time drove him to an unthinkable action, murder in the first degree.
It is a visual masterpiece which shows how ones man’s life is another man’s court case. As the story continues you see an exhilarating friendship build between Bacon’s character and his attorney played by Christian Slater. In order to prove the innocence of Henri Young, Slater’s character has to go up against the legal system and prove that Alcatraz was to blame for Young’s actions. He went into prison for stealing a mere $5 to feed him and his sister but ended up a killer.
Some men are broken by the laws that they break, unable to resist the forces that are pulling them down. Other men live by the rules that society sets down. You’re not one of them. -Milton Glen (Gary Oldman)
The brilliance of this film lies within the idea that it is not just another court case story but is more about one man’s quest to save another. As an audience we are taken on this emotional journey with Henry Young, and feel as if we were front row to a powerful fight for freedom as Alcatraz is put on the stand.
With moving performances from the two lead actors, this only helps enhance the overall feel of the film and really helps generate emotion for the lead character, which by the end of the film only leaves the audience with mixed feelings towards the final outcome.
Why this film was not nominated for an Oscar is beyond belief, it is entertaining, captivating and inspiring, all in one. Although, it has been suggested that it does not stick to the whole truth about who Henri Young was and why he actually went to Alcatraz , it is still a truly remarkable story that shows another side to the justice system and how you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.
It offers clever dialogue, and is definitely a masterpiece in the drama genre, which is a must see for any movie buff.