Two prisoners claiming their innocence and three other prisoners accepting their fate. In the four episodes of this first season, Werner Herzog does a wonderful job to make these prisoners talk. They're human beings with hopes, regrets and above all dreams. In most cases, the legal system failed at some point and, be they guilty or not, we don't have the right to ignore it because it's more convenient. Masterpiece.
I am not sure how I feel about this. The crimes these criminals were convicted of were committed with such disturbing brutality that it's simply inappropriate to humanize these murderers. I think Herzog is ignorant about psychopathy and the pity-playing of psychopaths which biased his filmmaking and as a result, he is apologetic towards most hideous crimes and the defect individuals who commited them.
Illuminates the basic humanity of the interviewees, however wretched their crimes, but 'On Death Row' also demonstrates Herzog's limitations as an interviewer (highlighting, by contrasts, the strengths of Errol Morris and Louis Theroux or even, at his best, Nick Broomfield). He needed that interview with James Barnes' father (which I think Theroux would have got) and hits a brick wall with Feldman. Bracingly earnest.