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

Director:Errol Morris
Lions Gate Films; PG-13; 91 minutes
Release:12/99
With:Fred Leuchter

Documentarian Errol Morris' interest in American pathology takes a sharp turn toward the personal in Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter Jr.

For awhile, Leuchter had it good: his creepy interest in efficient execution devices carved out a singular career niche. Before long he was the foremost U.S. expert on electric chairs, gas chambers, and lethal injection devices. The first part of the film examines his life with Morris's stylized musings. Things got grim, however, when Leuchter was asked to testify at the trial of a Canadian neo-Nazi historical revisionist. “Mr.Death” went to Auschwitz, filmed himself stealing concrete samples from a national monument, and went on to conclude that the Holocaust never occurred. While his popularity soared among right-wing hate groups, Leuchter's personal life began to fall apart and his professional status plummeted. The documentary gives a provocative look at the mind and morality of this normal man who blundered into vastly offensive errors of hubris and plain poor judgement.


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