The shocking true story that rocked England comes to the screen in this searing drama about crime and a travesty of justice. In the 1950s, mentally challenged Derek Bentley becomes friends with dangerous, gun-toting Chris ... more »Craig, who idolizes gangster films and dreams of rising in the crime world. However, one violent night will change their destinies forever and lead them to a courtroom where the entire future of the country is about to be changed. Starring Christopher Eccleston (28 Days Later, The Others, TV's Doctor Who, Gone in Sixty Seconds) in his first lead role Featuring Tom Courtenay> (Doctor Zhivago, Billy Liar), Eileen Atkins (Cold Mountain, Gosford Park), Paul Reynolds (Croupier, The Beastmaster), Michael Gough (Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, Batman) From acclaimed director Peter Medak (The Ruling Class, Romeo Is Bleeding, The Changeling) SPECIAL FEATURES: Brand New Digital Anamorphic Transfer - New Audio Commentary with Director Peter Medak - Theatrical Trailer« less
"This film, based upon a true story, illustrates the misapplication of the death penalty. In 1953 England, a slow witted young man, Derek Bentley, was executed, hanged for his alleged part in the killing of a police officer. It was a case which received much notoriety at the time.
Derek Bentley (Chris Eccleston) was a learning disabled, young man who was easily led. His sister, Iris (Clare Holman), however, treated him like a regular guy, and he thrived under her watchful eye. His steadfast, working class parents, William and Lilian Bentley (Tom Courtenay and Eileen Atkins), did everything they could to ensure that their son would stay on the straight and narrow. Still, boys will be boys, and one night, Derek, wanting to be one of the boys, simply hooked up with the wrong crowd who was up to no good. Although Derek was unarmed, another of the other boys was not, and when an inevitable clash with the police came about, a police officer was shot. Derek's by now famous words, "Let him have it", were the catalyst for his trial, conviction, and execution.
Notwithstanding Derek's learning disability, the ambiguity of the statement attributed to him, and his tangential involvement during the shootout with the police, Derek was given the death penalty. The draconian sentence was a heartbreaking blow to Derek and his family, as it was always Derek's position that he meant for the shooter to let the police have the gun. Nearly forty five years later, after persistent efforts by his beloved sister, Iris, Derek was finally exonerated by the very courts that had earlier found him guilty. In reality, it was too little, too late, for Derek.
Chris Eccleston gives a bravura performance as the slow witted Derek, compelling and moving. He plays him as a young man who was aware of his shortcomings and very much wanted to be accepted by his peers. Tom Courtenay and Eileen Atkins are outstanding as the loving parents whose steadfast belief in the system is derailed at the last. Clare Holman is excellent as the sister whose expectations of her brother would never fail to make him try harder. All in all, the entire cast gives notable performances. Superbly directed by Peter Medak, it is a film well worth watching."
A shattering anti-death-penalty film with great performances
Lawyeraau | 02/22/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If Peter Medak's career since this film had fulfilled his promise in this one, he'd be one of the industry's leading directors. That Chris Eccleston, who has assembled an impressive body of work since his debut in this film, is still virtually unknown is nothing short of a crime.This film is a must-see for anyone who believes that the death penalty is always meted out fairly. It dramatizes the 1953 U.K. execution by hanging of Derek Bentley, a learning-disabled young man involved peripherally in the shooting of a police officer."Let him have it, Chris!" Bentley uttered just before his young accomplice let the shots fly. Did he mean for him to shoot, or drop the gun? 43 years after Bentley's execution, in July 1998, the British courts finally agreed that he meant the latter.The film is a smashing debut for Chris Eccleston, who imbues young Bentley with pathos without resorting to mannerisms or acting tricks. If you accidentally stumbled upon JUDE because you wanted to see Kate Winslet, check her equally-talented co-star out in this film. Eccleston is backed up by equally poignant, yet muted supporting performances by Tom Courtenay (nice to see him in a film again) as Derek's father, and by Eileen Atkins as his mother, as well as Clare Holman as his understanding sister Iris, who tries valiantly to help her brother survive in the mainstream.The knowledge that Iris Bentley died merely months before her brother was exonerated makes this film even more heartbreaking."
A Magnificent Achievement!!!
Robert Byrd | Minneapolis, MN United States | 12/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I won't bother telling the plot of this film since so many other reviewers have outlined it in great detail. I will only say there is no greater cinematic indictment of the death penalty than this devastating film. What gives it special significance, of course, is that it is based on a true case - a case that eventually led to abolition of capital punishment in Great Britain. I shutter to think of the number of innocent people executed in countries (including the so-called "civilized" United States) practicing capital punishment in order to satisfy the public's hasty and often misguided need for revenge. LET HIM HAVE IT will have a profound impact on anyone who sees it, regardless of his/her stand on the death penalty."
Heart Wrenching but ...
Maskirovka | Alexandria, VA USA | 10/02/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This movie had an enormous emotional impact on me. I think it brought me close to tears when I first saw it. Perhaps the saddest scene in it is the one when he asks his mother about his date with the hangman, "Is it going to hurt?"
My main complaint with this movie is the fact that it totally focuses on the injustice done to Derek Bentley. The police officer who was murdered that night gets perhaps two lines of dialogue. After his death, the only reference to him is that his widow didn't call for Bentley's death.
Even though I remain a supporter of the death penalty, I don't think that Bentley should have been executed. I do think that the man needed to be in a controlled environment because he did engage in criminal activity that night, and someone died because of it.
With that said, I wish the movie had given maybe five more minutes of character development to the police officer. Bentley being executed was a miscarriage of justice. But so was the killing of the police officer. Bentley didn't get a fair trial or due process, but the police officer didn't get any trial or process at all.
Think about it when you watch this movie."
Depressing, realistic look at a justice case gone wrong.
MATT | ARIZONA | 03/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"christopher plays the main character put to death for a crime he didn't do. he was hanged for it. mixing in with the wrong set of people, he finds himself the center of conviction for a man's death in a shooting. a "friend" of his is on a rooftop with him, being chased by police. his friend points the gun at the guy. the cop says to hand the gun over. he refuses. then christopher, not wanting any more trouble with the law, says "let him have it"---- meaning give the cop the gun....NOT SHOOT HIM. thus began a trial of a misunderstood phrase with led to a death sentance. to this day, family members in england are still trying to clear his name for innocence. sad, well acted, and extremely thought provoking. "