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

Synopsis: Documentary about Fred Leuchter, an engineer who became an expert on execution devices and was later hired by revisionist historian Ernst Zundel to "prove" that there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz. Leuchter published a controversial report confirming Zundel's position, which ultimately ruined his own career. Most of the footage is of Leuchter, puttering around execution facilities or chipping away at the walls of Auschwitz, but Morris also interviews various historians, associates, and neighbors.
Director(s): Errol Morris
Production: Lions Gate Releasing
  1 win & 8 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
91 min

the electric chair...

and they did successfully

execute him.

But, I mean,

he was very lucky.

He was hit with

a full jolt of electricity,

the equipment blew up,

burned up...

and he walked away from it

without any damage,

not even a burn.

One by one,

I determined that this state's

equipment was not functional,

this state's equipment

was not functional.

Then suddenly one day I said,

"None of the equipment

is functional."

Many of the electric chairs

were built by inmates

and electricians...

who had no idea

of what they were building.

They took a picture of another

state's electric chair and made

something that looked like it.

[ Film Projector Running ]

Tennessee contacted me...

with the construction

of their new prison.

I was asked to

inspect the equipment

at the old facility...

and make a determination

of what could be salvaged.

The only consideration was

that they wanted to maintain

the electric chair,

which they've had in place

since 1898.

The reasoning being

that the wood

from the electric chair...

not only had the tradition

of all of their

electrocution executions,

but it also formerly served

as the wood of their gallows.

The chair itself...

was much smaller

than one would expect.

It looked more like it was made

to accommodate a youngster...

or a woman.

So, we essentially

made the chair wider,

we made the chair higher.

We supplied them with

a completely new power supply...

so there's

no excessive cooking.

And then finally,

because we were unable to match

the old wood with the new oak,

it became necessary for us

to paint the chair...

with a special,

high-quality epoxy paint,

the same basic paint

that's used by NASA...

on the nose and body

of the space shuttle.

[ Steve ]

That was back in '89,

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Submitted on August 05, 2018


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