Doing Time: Life Inside the Big House

Watch Doing Time: Life Inside the Big House

  • 1991
  • 1 hr
  • 7.1  (67)

Doing Time: Life Inside the Big House is a documentary movie from 1991 that takes an unflinching look at the state of the American prison systems. It is directed and produced by Alan Raymond, who is known for his work as a documentary filmmaker. Doing Time goes behind the bars and explores the daily lives of prisoners and their interactions with the correctional system.

The film presents an intimate and revealing portrait of the American criminal justice system through interviews with prisoners and their families, officers, and other staff at prisons around the country. The cameras follow prisoners through their daily routines, from meals to work assignments and activities.

The film's genesis lies in the troubles faced by Raymond's nephew, serving a 10-year prison term for burglary. In interviews, Raymond says he made the movie not to advocate for inmates, but to show viewers the system as it really was.

The film's basic premise is familiar to those who have seen documentaries like American Hollow or Jail: a camera crew goes into a place they don't really belong and records the lives of the people they find there. However, Doing Time is a more traditional documentary: there is no narration and little context. Instead, the prisoners themselves tell their stories and make their arguments for why they deserve to be released.

Doing Time touches on many of the key issues facing the justice system, including overcrowding, the privatization of prisons, and the challenges of rehabilitation. It examines various approaches to punishment and dives into the debate over whether prisons should focus on punishment or rehabilitation. The film is not overtly political, but rather presents a journalistic account of the state of the system at the time.

One of the ways that Doing Time humanizes the individuals in the system is by carefully examining their daily routine. The filmmakers document mundane activities such as mealtime, exercise routines, and reading time. These small moments offer viewers a glimpse into the daily lives of prisoners, showing that they are people like everyone else.

The film also delves into the inner workings of the prison system itself. It shows how prisoners interact with correctional officers and how the officers try to control the prisoners. The film looks at the various programs that are available to inmates, such as educational classes and work assignments. The issue of overcrowding is presented as a recurring problem throughout the movie.

Doing Time is an honest and unflinching portrayal of the American prison system. The movie is not a polemic, but rather a thoughtful, contemplative work that offers viewers insight into what life is really like behind bars. The documentary presents many sides to the debate over how best to deal with criminals and serves to foster conversation about the problems and possible solutions to them.

The film's title refers to the idea of serving time in prison as a sort of punishment. However, the movie also shows how time in prison affects prisoners and their families as well. Doing Time: Life Inside the Big House presents a complex view of life on the inside and raises important questions about the role of prisons in our society.

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  • Release Date
  • Runtime
    1 hr
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.1  (67)