Dead Man Walking

Movie review by Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
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Common Sense says

age 17+

Intense '90s death-penalty drama has cursing, violence.

R 1996 122 minutes

Parents say

age 14+

Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 15+

Based on 1 review

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Community Reviews

age 14+


I really appreciate this movie. I use it when I teach HS sophomores about moral decision making, values, virtues, forgiveness, and reconciliation. It's clearly so complicated; the violence is brutal and I do warn them about that, but we watch it together over two or three class periods and unpack the harder parts at the end of each class. Sean Penn's portrayal of the (composite character) Matthew Poncelet is brilliant - my students come to have empathy for him by the end of the film, though they can see that what he did was abhorrent. Throwing the death penalty question in makes the movie even richer for a classroom conversation; the discussion on restorative v punitive justice is very valuable.

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