Evil sinners and Oscar winners…but who does it best?
** Warning: here be spoilers **
Obviously, with the terminal nature of all successful executions, some of what follows could give away the endings (and, in some cases, middles and beginnings) of films you still haven’t seen.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to warn you which ones we’re talking about without actually giving the game away. So, if you’re at all concerned, please click the other stories on the site, where you can be sure someone will be dead at the end of each one you read.
If, however, you care to join in the discussion, here are some things to bear in mind:
- we’re only interested in scenes played out by actors, where no-one has actually died in real life. Shaky footage taken on a camcorder or camera phone, which has been punted round the web doesn’t count
- the film needs to actually include scenes of the execution. So, although it’s a good movie, ‘Monster’ starring Charlize Theron, isn’t admissable, as they gloss over the lethal injection with some text at the end
- although I don’t specialise solely in films featuring death and execution (I’m more of a James Bond kinda guy) I do know my onions. So think long and hard before you try suggesting the hangings at the start of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean 3 : At World’s End’ or the end of ‘Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves’, because they just won’t wash.
The top 10
So, here are the ‘Execution of the Day’ top 10 celluoid executions. If you think you can do better…bring the noise.
10. ‘Schindler’s List’ – there are plenty of summary executions along the way and there’s no denying Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece has so many memorable scenes, but it’s the short-drop hanging of Ralph Fiennes’ Amon Goeth that sticks in the mind. Evil on a rope.
9. ‘Dead Man Walking’ – Sean Penn’s character was largely based on the story of one Elmo Sonnier, but while Sonnier met his demise in the electric chair, Sean’s Matthew Poncelet was strapped to a gurney and lethally injected…while Tim Robbins and his missus just looked on smiling and nodding. Those two!!
8. ‘Cromwell’ – a long time ago in a London square far, far away, Obi Wan gets in some practice at dying. Whether Charles I became more powerful than Oliver Cromwell could ever imagine is debatable, but Sir Alec Guinness does his usual trick of sticking his hands above his head before the fateful blow is struck, just in case.
7. ‘The Name Of The Rose’ – Connery does Cadfael, in a monk murdering monastry mudbath. But when Sean’s super sleuth bangs heads with the Grand Inquisitor ‘Bernado Gui’, it’s professional uglyman, Ron Perlman’s turn as the hunchback ‘Salvatore’ that gets a roasting, as he’s burned at the stake for heresy.
6. ‘Braveheart’ – Our first taste of Gibson gore as Mel mashes up the story of William Wallace to produce a decent film…even if it does take a few liberties with the facts. I’m not sure if being tied to a post and having your throat cut is strictly an execution, but it was the only example of hanged, drawn and quartered that I could think of.
5. ‘Sophie Scholl’ – it’s a pretty gripping film throughout, but when you consider the guillotine used in the final scenes as Julia Jentsch’s Sophie is put to death was the same one that executed the real Sophie back in 1943, it makes it all the more poignant.
4. ‘The Passion of the Christ’ – if you make it through the torturous 20-minute beating scene during the second act of Mel Gibson’s biblical epic, your stomach is probably strong enough to take the eventual nailing of Jim Caviezel’s Jesus to the cross. As he was rumoured to have coughed up $40 million of his own money, Gibbo decided to save a bit of cash by using his own hands for the close-up of the nails being hammered home.
3. ‘Pierrepoint’ – so many to choose from here (Ruth Ellis and the luckless Timothy Evans among them), but it has to be the quickfire dispatch of 13 Nazi war criminals – including Irma Grese and the Beast of Belsen, Josef Kramer – that define the film and the efficiency of the man himself.
2. ‘Let Him Have It’ – the final scenes where Christopher Ecclestone’s Derek Bentley comes face to face with hangman Albert Pierrepoint (via ‘Boon’ star Michael Elphick) are seriously shocking. It’s difficult to comprehend how quick it all happens – it’s enough to shake your shoes off.
And the winner is…
1. ‘The Green Mile’ – although it’s all pure fiction, the ‘Shawshank Redemption’s’ darker cousin has three electric chair executions to pick from, but the clincher has to be Eduard ‘Del’ Delacroix’s roasting at the hands of the evil Percy. Grim reaping indeed.