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Birdman of Alcatraz - DVD cover

Birdman of Alcatraz 

The incarcerated life of Robert Stroud at Leavenworth and Alcatraz from 1912 to 1959 - the last forty-three of those years in solitary confinement - is presented, that end date which is when he is about to leave Alcatraz for good, the result of the writings of advocate Thomas E. Gaddis. Stroud’s story starts in year three of his twelve year sentence for manslaughter. In the eyes of the authorities, he is seen as dangerous and unrepentant, not so much of the crime itself but of what they see as his stand against their authority. That attitude leads to him murdering someone else in prison, which ultimately results in a life sentence to be spent in solitary confinement. His life begins to change in 1920 when he finds an abandoned baby sparrow in the prison courtyard. This find begins a self-taught life as an ornithology expert, most specifically in combating bird diseases, many which had no known cure before his findings. Over the course of his imprisonment, his relationships with those people key to what happens to him are shown. They include: his mother, who began as his sole focus in life early in his incarceration, but with who he had a falling out late in her life; Harvey Shoemaker, the prison warden at both Leavenworth and Alcatraz for the better part of his incarceration, and who was in many respects his chief antagonist based on their differing views of the penal system in general; Bull Ransom, who was his primary guard for most of his stay at Leavenworth; and Stella Johnson, whose initial connection to him is through their mutual interest in birds.

Drama, Biography

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    148 min.
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