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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> October 2000 >> Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.

Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.

Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
4 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
October 2000
IMDB Name:
Mr. Death (1999)
Errol Morris
MPAA Rating:
PG-13 for thematic elements.


Fred Leuchter is an interesting man. I knew that instinctively because Errol Morris wouldn't make a movie about him otherwise. Leuchter's specialty is execution equipment, and he specialized in improving the conditions under which criminals are executed. This alone would probably have made him an interesting candidate for a film like Morris's Fast, Cheap & Out of Control. The first twenty minutes of Mr. Death even play that way, but that's only the rise. Holocaust deniers hired Leuchter as an expert on execution, seeking to disprove that Nazis had actually slaughtered millions at Auschwitz. This provides the central conflict of the movie as Leuchter's life goes into a tailspin for concluding on shoddy methods that the "revisionists" are right.

Although Morris's approach with Leuchter is reminiscent of his amazing Thin Blue Line, Mr. Death can't hold a candle to it. Even though the fallout from the Leuchter Report will affect more people, I was infinitely more horrified to hear about the railroading of Randall Adams. I imagine that seeing Mr. Death without having seen Morris's previous work would improve it a great deal. I was also disappointed with the Caleb Sampson score, which pales in comparison to his outstanding music for Fast, Cheap.

DVD Comments

Mr. Death's DVD is very simple, containing only the trailer as an extra item. The menu design is terrific, including very nice execution of the chapter selector. I was annoyed that Universal sticks one of their clip reels on the front of the movie when selecting "Play", but it can be skipped with the next track control. Captions are available in English. The text appears in a very readable font, but it's large enough to cover significant portions of the image.

See the IMDB information on Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.'s DVD or compare prices at DVD Price Search.

Other Opinions

Copyright 2000-2001 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.