How Peter Medak gained the viewer’s sympathy for Derek Bentley in the film ‘Let him have it!’ Essay

Published: 2021-06-29 01:49:02
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Category: Film

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In a lot of films, film directors use bias when making a film. They use it to make people feel or influence for or against someone or something. Bias means a feeling or influence for or against someone or something it can also mean a tendency to swerve and also a slanting direction. Peter Medak directed this film in a very biased point of view. I think Peter Medak wanted to make the film ‘Let him have it! o make people think about injustice and also capital punishment because if someone is found guilty of a crime they did not commit and given a death sentence and already been put to death then new evidence is found and the person is found innocent then they can not be brought back from the dead.
But if the person was just sentenced to a few years in prison then they can just be let out. At the start of the film you see bricks falling on top of Derek during the war. He then suffered from epilepsy as a result of head injury. This gains the viewers sympathy, as at this moment Derek is only a young child.
Later on in his childhood when he is a young teenager you can see a group of Derek’s friends and Derek, himself breaking in and also vandalising a shed. The film then skips a few years till Derek is 19 years old. He then meet a boy called Christopher Craig and stared to hand-around with Craig and his friends. On Sunday the 2nd of November 1952, Derek Bentley went out with his friend, 16-year-old Christopher Craig, to see if they could carry out a burglary. Bentley was armed with a knife and a knuckle-duster, which Craig had recently given him. Craig had a similar knife but was also armed with a . 455 Eley revolver.
Craig normally carried a gun and it is reasonable to suppose that Bentley would have known this. They were thwarted in their attempts on their first two targets and finally chose to break into a warehouse belonging to a company called Parker & Barlow in Croydon Surrey. As they climbed onto the roof of the warehouse they were noticed by a little girl who lived opposite and who’s mother phoned the police. Craig and Bentley were on the roof as the police arrived and attempted to run but DC Fairfax quickly detained Bentley. Craig decided to shoot his way out and fired at DC Fairfax wounding him in the shoulder.
At some time during the shooting Bentley is alleged to have said the now famous words “Let him have it, Chris”. Bentley offered no resistance to Fairfax and stood by the injured policeman without any restraint for the next 30 minutes or so. Other officers arrived on the scene within minutes, some of them armed. Craig continued shooting at anyone that moved and as the first of the reinforcements, PC Sidney Miles, came up the stairs and through the door onto the roof he was shot through the head and died almost instantly. Craig eventually ran out of bullets and threw himself off the roof in a vain attempt to avoid capture.
He landed on a greenhouse roof 30 feet below and broke his back. In their trial both Craig and Bentley were charged with the murder of PC Miles. They came to trial at the Old Bailey on Thursday the 9th of December 1952 before the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Goddard, and both pleaded not guilty. Craig was given a prison sentence and Bentley was given a death sentence. I do not think Derek should have hanged, as he was not the one whom had killed or injured a police officer. All Derek is responsible for is taking the factory’s keys with out permission, trying to break and enter the building and also for saying, “let him have it” to Craig.
This is where Peter madak first gets us to feel sorry for Derek. Derek did not have a very good childhood as he suffered with epilepsy; this developed as a result of a head injury during the war when we see bricks falling all over and burring him underneath, he was only a young child. When Derek was older he made friends with the wrong group of boys. They broke into a shead and started to vandalize it, then when the owner came out to see what was happening the boys ran off while Derek had an exilic fit, this is another part of the film were we fell sorry for him.
We see the shock on the mans face when he realises what is going on with Derek. Derek Bentley spent most of his life in and out of approved school, as at the age of nineteen he only had the mental age of an eleven year old. When he finally left approved school for good, he spent most of his time in his room listening to records and smoking cigarettes with his sister Iris. This makes most of the views sympathetic towards him as it is like the only person he has contact with is his sister. She finally convinced him to go out with her to go buy one of his favourite records, from this he started going out more and more.
When he was got walking the family dogs Craig introduced himself by butting a gun to Derek, he then said he was only joking, the two started to talk and then Craig jumped in front of a train making Derek think he was dead. This is one of the main parts where the director makes us sympathetic as Derek is left there confused and scared. When Derek is on the roof you can tell he does not wont to be there. When the police come he gives him self up and tries to get craig to do the same. The trial was another scene that made the viewers feel sympathy for Derek.
Throughout the trial Derek looks confused and scared. He also keeps his head down which indicates he is frightened. As the camera focuses on his face, you can see the cuts and bruises that the police officers had done whilst being arrested which creates sympathy. The camera focuses on the main people in the courtroom such as his family, the judge and the jury. From this scene, the judge seemed a bit biased towards the officers as he said, “These officers showed conspicuous gallantry, are you going to say they are conspicuous lies.
When it was time for the prosecutor to ask Derek questions he is prompted and in return he looks for reassurance from his sister and also looks around for help from his friends and family. He also answers the questions slowly, which is due to his mental disability. In comparison Chris Craig throughout the trial has a small smirk, which indicates that he does not care about the sentence, as he wants to be like his brother who is also in jail and that he knows that he cannot get the death penalty because of his age. He has his arm in a sling, which creates sympathy.
In the courtroom the place is tense and people are trapped, which creates tension for the two victims. There is a sound of a violin when Derek gets tense and when he is unable to answer the question quickly enough. In the trial Bentley is very polite to the judge as when answering a question he says,” Yes sir”, “No sir”. As the verdict was announced for Bentley there was an inward breath, which makes you feel sympathy for Derek as his face is in shock. Just before the execution Derek writes a letter to his family saying how sorry he is and that he loves them all very much but because he cannot read or write a police officer writes it for him.
This gains even more sympathy for Derek as we remember that he has a mental age of eleven. During the execution Derek seems very calm but we can see in his face he is terrified. In the film we see Derek walking up the stairs accompanied by two police offers with him in the middle, when the reach the top of the tower they put a bag over his head and then fit the rope. We hear said music and then the camera goes to his family in their home, all standing in the middle of the floor hugging one another and crying, the director then gets a close up of a clock witch is on the fire place, and the clock ticking to eleven o’clock.
I think there are many messages the Peter Medak is trying to deliver. The main one is the capital punishment is wrong as is the law convicts an innocent person then they are now dead and their death is in justified, they cannot be brought back to life as if they where in prison they could be let out even though they have lost some of their life they are still alive and to start again. Also by giving people how are guilty the death sentence they do not have to think about what they have done and live with it for the rest of their lives. If people are put into prison then they have a second chance to make their lives right.

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