How does Peter Medak gain the viewer's sympathy for Derek Bentley in the film "let him have it"?

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Carl Phillips


How does Peter Medak gain the viewer’s sympathy for Derek Bentley in the film “let him have it”?

The Derek Bentley case started on the 9th December 1952, it lasted only 75 minutes long and at the end of the trial Bentley has a death sentence and Chris had life. They were both charged of murder. Derek Bentley was executed at the age of 19 on January 28, 1953.

The film “let him have it” is based on this case; it is about the British legal system and how they got this case completely wrong.

The director Peter Medak, makes you feel the pain and emotion that Derek and his family were feeling at the time this happened. Medak does this in such a way that you could cry when Derek and his family were both happy and sad. He proves throughout the film that injustice was done, and uses acts of bias to get this point across to us as the audience. Normally when bias is used, you would think that it was for something bad but Medak uses bias in many different ways throughout this film. Medak uses bias in this film because he wants to show that in this case capitol punishment was wrong for the crime committed.

The story of Derek Bentley and Christopher Craig emerged when they met while Bentley was walking his dogs. From a very early age Bentley was easily led, this was great for Craig as he needed Bentley’s size and power to do different jobs. The thing that made them strong friends was when they both realized they had something in common this was “ Dyslexia”, they both could not read or write, this was the start to a good friendship that led them both into trouble.


Now you ask me “should Derek Bentley have been hung?” I feel completely one sided towards this because I honestly do not think that he did anything wrong. In my opinion he should never have been convicted of murder, he did not kill or hurt anyone! The only crime that he did commit was burglary and he didn’t really steal anything he tried to, so I would say that he was trespassing. I see it as it was those famous words “Let him have it Chris” as the word that put him to his death. He obviously used these words to say, “Give him the gun Chris” but this was turned around and used against him. Not for one minute do I think he was trying to say “shoot the cop, kill the basted”, I don’t think that he was that kind of person to do such a thing. There was not even enough evidence to convict Derek of murder, ok he had a knuckle-duster and a knife on him but I don’t think that he had any intention of using these weapons. There wasn’t even enough evidence to say that Chris killed PC Miles, as there were only two bullets found on the roof one of which was in the arm of Srg. Fairfax, on top of this the bullet that killed PC Miles was not the bullet from Chris’s gun it was a different type of bullet. But none of this would of happened if Chris didn’t fire the gun in the first place, so therefore he is most obvious to blame. Chris was not old enough to serve a death penalty, as he was only 16, so somebody had to be punished as at the end of the day an officer of the law was shot dead. The judge was too bias, he felt somebody should serve a punishment for this, and I guess that Derek was 19 so Derek had to suffer.

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This has been one of the most controversial screw ups by our government of all times, the thing is this sort of stuff happens in this day and age all of the time, and there would have had to have been a lot more evidence for somebody to get corporal punishment. Today if you do get charged with murder, you would not get the death penalty unless you had killed allot of people, or that the murder was so harsh that you needed to die for it. Christopher Craig received life and was held at her majesty’s pleasure, he was ...

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