Werner Herzog‘s 2011 death row documentary Into the Abyss was met with critical acclaim, but I found it to be a tedious series of brazenly manipulative interviews where Herzog constantly took his eye off the ball to explore tangents that were immaterial to his larger exploration of capital punishment. Hopefully, he’ll be more focused in his upcoming three-part documentary series On Death Row. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “The new cases involve a man who paid killers to eliminate his ex-wife; a man who shot down truck drivers from his motorcycle; and a man who beat his girlfriend’s baby to death because he thought it was possessed by demons.” Those are certainly disturbing cases, and I hope Herzog can give them the attention they deserve rather than taking time away to talk to an unimportant guy who was stabbed with a screwdriver.
Herzog is also working on the documentary series, Hate in America. Hit the jump for more. [Update: We've updated our information on Hate in America]
Hate in America is four, 1-hour documentaries each examining a different aspect of hate crime. Along with portraits of Neo-Nazis and white supremacists, Herzog looks at the cases of the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, and a suburban housewife turned killer of Mexicans. He also visits Harrison, Arkansas, dubbed America’s “hate central”.
Herzog has the power to be incredibly insightful and captivating when he wants to be, and this is a subject worthy of thoughtful examination. I hope that On Death Row and Hate in America deliver on their promise of powerful documentary filmmaking. [Update: Publicists for Hate in America have let us know that the topics are still to be determined. Additionally, both Hate in America and On Death Row will have their broadcast premieres on Investigation Discovery.]
The German director will be seen later this year playing the villain in the Tom Cruise action-thriller Jack Reacher. Herzog is also working on the independent feature Queen of the Desert starring Naomi Watts and Robert Pattinson.