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What I Want My Words to Do to You
What I Want My Words to Do to You
Actors: Mary Alice, Glenn Close, Eve Ensler, Hazelle Goodman, Rosie Perez
Directors: Gary Sunshine, Judith Katz, Madeleine Gavin
Genres: Documentary
NR     2004     1hr 18min


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Movie Details

Actors: Mary Alice, Glenn Close, Eve Ensler, Hazelle Goodman, Rosie Perez
Directors: Gary Sunshine, Judith Katz, Madeleine Gavin
Creators: Eve Ensler, Dyanna Taylor, Paul Gibson, Gary Sunshine, Judith Katz, Madeleine Gavin, Carol Jenkins, Chris Miller, Jody Milano Vanderputten
Genres: Documentary
Sub-Genres: Biography
Studio: PBS Home Video
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 03/09/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 18min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Unbelievably Powerful!
Katie | PA , USA | 09/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"WOW!!! I just finished watching "What I Want My Words to do to You", and I have to say that it's one of the most powerful documentaries I have EVER seen!

This "show" is about an exploratory writing class that was held over a period of 4 years at a maximum security prison in New York. During these classes, the women were encouraged to write about specific topics dealing with their incarceration, as well as all the things that contributed to their crimes.

So many questions and thoughts went through my mind as I watched this movie - I also found myself crying quite a few times - sad for what they went through as children, sad that they didn't choose a different way of life, sad that our justice system does not yet regcognize when TRUE positive change has been made - when certain people are no longer a threat to society... But although it did bring about a profound sadness within me, it also made me realize that these people who we lock away are still VERY HUMAN! It's so easy for us all to lock them away and throw out the key when we see them as their crimes...

I am a "big time" watcher of the various real-life crime shows out there - where they talk about a particular case, and show how it was solved. All these years, I rarely questioned what led the person to do such a thing. I just sighed a sigh of relief that they were no longer on the street. I don't think I will ever watch these shows again with the same disregard for the perpetrator - I realize how important it is to realize that they are human as well - They have a story too...

Now, this doesn't mean that I think crimes should just be forgiven and forgotten, without some sort of punishment - and jail may in fact be the answer. But I now realize more than ever that when people are sent to jail, we as a society need to realize that they are still people, and many times they have been victims of violent crimes themselves. Those who end up in jail obviously need help in learning to deal with whatever hand they were dealt, and take responsiblity for their own choices - both in the past and present. To put someone in jail, without providing EFFECTIVE forms of treatment is preposterous! Is it any wonder that the recitivism rates are so high??? These people obviously are in need of help - at least someone to show them an appropriate path for when the leave the prison walls. We also need to help them find hope - something that seems lacking even in those who are on this documentary.

Another thing that surprised me while watching this documentary is that the sentences are so very different for virtually the same crime. Some of the women had actually "pulled the trigger", and they got 15 to life, where other's had been accomplices - having never touched a weapon, and they received a life sentence without the chance of parole. There needs to be some sort of consistency. It appears that there is just too much lee-way in determining the length of someone's sentence...

Watching some of these women, I could see that they were no longer a danger to society. This brings up the question of whether inmates deserve to have their sentences revoked if they are found to be truly changed, and no longer a threat. Of course, I don't know how this could be done, as I'm sure plenty of inmates could fake change just to get out. But what of the people who really have changed? Do they deserve a second chance?

As I said, watching this brought up many questions within me that I just don't know the answers to - but that's what makes it so powerful.

One thing I really liked about this "movie" was that ALL of the women took responsiblity for what they had done. And, although they had been victimized themselves, they didn't blame their actions soley on that - yet it's clear to see how their past contributed to their actions.

I think the hardest part of watching this was the realization that it could literally be anyone sitting in that jail in their place - given horrible life circumstances, fear, lack of love, and no hope for a better future, anyone could have made the same horrific choices they did - No one is immune...

You may wonder why I have not said much re: the victims of these womens' crimes - it's only because that is not the point of this documentary. However, I do believe that victims and their families should be able to feel safe - that their perpetrators be caught, and sentenced appropriately. The point for me here is that we need to help these "perps" to learn to become responsible contributors in our society, so that no one else is hurt by their actions when their sentence is over - and right now, our justice system is not doing a good job at this at all. However, workshops such as the one shown here is a good start.

Overall, I would highly recommend "What I Want My Words to do to You" to everyone. It serves in many ways as a wake up call, and is truly thought provoking & profound. Just a suggestion - make sure to have a box of tissues handy...

P.S. I apologize for the length of this review - I just had so much that I wanted to say about it, and the words just kept coming..."
Gripping and full of compassion
Sasha Daucus | Doniphan, MO USA | 03/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This production shows women who have committed terrible crimes talking about their feelings as human beings-- their regrets, the difficulty of living after the crime/s were committed, what it's like to know they will be in prison for the rest of their lives, what it felt like to be considered 'monsters' in the press, and more. Eve Ensler is leading a writer's circle where the women are exploring these themes. Her interaction with the women is so straight across. The whole feeling of this production is that these are human beings first and prisoners second. It is a work of great compassion and honesty."
Excellent Movie!
Sasha Daucus | 01/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I loved this movie. I had to buy my own copy of it. Not only did I think the workshop was interesting but also the actors and their performences. Also, the actor's discussions throughout the film. I definitly recommend this to other people who are interested. I think writing is a good exercise to solve certain problems. I also love Eve Ensler, she is my favorite female playwright."
What I want my words to do to you
Jesse Smith | 05/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is an excellent movie. These women are in prison for very serious crimes and you learn about their lives in prison and when they committed the crimes. Many of these women were abused and their crimes were a reaction to the abuse. You see how this is connected in the movie. This is a very important movie that educates the people on the outsideas to what prison is like."