Werner Herzog doesn’t believe in the death penalty, but he’s fond of the state that carries it out the most.
The German filmmaker behind such documentaries as “Grizzly Man” and “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” partly filmed his four-part Investigation Discovery series “On Death Row” in Texas. He said the state believes in the death penalty so strongly that it has nothing to hide, which allowed him great freedom to interview inmates.
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“This kind of transparency has been very astonishing,” he said. “Texas, by the way, is a state which I like. … I like the heartland of America more than the fringes, which is California or, let’s say Boston, or New York. … and there has been something really special about Texas, the intensity of people.”
Herzog spoke at the Television Critics Association winter press tour Friday.
Because prison guidelines required him to wrap up his interviews with death row inmates in just 50 minutes, Herzog had to quickly establish a tone with his subjects. The quick rapports didn’t keep him from recognizing the horror of their crimes.
“James Barnes in my opinion is the ultimate nightmare for women,” he said of an inmate he interviewed in Florida. “A man with the intention to murder you, and rape you, hides himself stark naked in your closet, and watches you for hours and hours, how you are doing your dinner, how you are watching a soap opera, how you take a shower, and keeps watching, watching, watching. And then comes out and murders you.”
Try to imagine him saying it in that Herzog voice. Chilly.
Barnes was sentenced in 2007 in the attack Herzog described. Barnes killed Patricia Patsy Miller in 1988, and his DNA was matched to hers while he was serving a life sentence for the 1997 murder of his wife, Linda Barnes.