Murder in the First

  • Review Date: September 13, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1995
  • Running Time: 122 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Moving story of justice but too intense for kids.
  • Review Date: September 13, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1995
  • Running Time: 122 minutes

Age(i)

NOT FOR KIDS

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable
Violence

Extremely graphic scenes of torture.

Sex

Some nudity.

Language

Very Strong language.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this prison drama contains extremely graphic scenes of torture and some nudity. The scenes of suffering are very disturbing, and are most definitely inappropriate for kids and young teens.

User reviews

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

Loosely based on fact, MURDER IN THE FIRST centers on Henri Young (Kevin Bacon), a petty criminal who tries to escape from Alcatraz in 1928. As punishment he is placed in solitary confinement for over three years. Upon his release, he murders a fellow prisoner. His guilt is indisputable, but his lawyer (Christian Slater) puts the prison on trial, claiming that Young's abuse at the hands of a sadistic warden (Gary Oldman) drove him to commit the crime.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This drama is very interesting, but the many early scenes of torture and abuse, as well as those of Young's endless imprisonment in utter darkness and solitude, are very difficult to watch. They serve the story -- without some understanding of what he endured, it would be difficult to understand what is at stake in his trial. But nonetheless, they are very disturbing and upsetting to view.

Kevin Bacon is brilliant as Young, managing to convey his humanity even when he is most damaged by what was done to him. The courtroom drama is compelling, Slater is fine as a young, idealistic attorney, and Oldman is menacing and scary as the warden. The direction is rather flat and the soundtrack rather turgid, but if you can get past the torture scenes, the human drama is very touching and beautifully played. Families with older teenagers may find this an unusual and disturbing look at the prison system, but it's inappropriate for younger viewers.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the history of the prison at Alcatraz and of the American penal system in general. Although the movie is only loosely based on fact, it raises questions about how prisoners are treated that merit consideration.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 13, 1995
DVD release date:September 13, 2003
Cast:Christian Slater, Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon
Director:Marc Rocco
Studio:Warner Bros.
Genre:Drama
Run time:122 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:scenes of extremely graphic violence and torture, strong language, and sexuality

This review of Murder in the First was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

Write a user reviewThere aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass