Morgan Freeman, behind the lesser-known details of the most famous prison escapes

Faced with extreme situations, desperate solutions. The popular saying could be a good starting point to delve into the series great exhaustswhich History premieres starting this Saturday at 10 p.m. The actor Morgan Freemanidentified with the theme from his work in Dreams of liberty (The Shawshank Redemption1994), officiates as presenter during eight chapters, which begin with the multiple leaks of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmanthe remembered escape from Alcatraz of 1962 or, more here in time, the escape of two men from the Clinton correctional facility in Dannemora.

“With this show you get an idea of ​​how dedicated, how brave and how resourceful people can be in desperate situations,” explained the actor of invictus in dialogue with César Sabroso, Senior VP Marketing of signal-. If you tell me that you put a person in an impossible escape situation and he escapes, he manages to do it, my main interest is to know how he did it. We are going to be on the side of daring, of heroic effort, no matter who or what. We won’t believe he did it. Every time they reach a point where they are stuck, they become your heroes. How are they going to fix this? Because we all know that they came out, but how did they do it?”.

Freeman came to the project through his company Revelations Entertainment. “At my company we have this documentary department that is actually run by James Younger and Geoffrey Sharp. They are constantly looking for things to do, documentaries that they can create and present. I happen to have this reputation in presenting, I guess, and that’s why I was called to be a part of this project. And I couldn’t resist,” explained the 84-year-old actor.

In addition to archive images and the recreation with actors of key moments in each story, great exhausts It benefits from simulation technology based on the Unreal Engine platform, the same one used in a large number of video games. In this way, through digital and 3D layout, it is possible to gain a real awareness of what each of these escapes were. Explains James Younger: “All that architecture around contributes a high quality work. We were thus able to reproduce the escape route, in many cases. For example, the ventilation tunnels in the cells, on the roof. And how this was done with the actors is very interesting, because sometimes it was easier to maybe build the physical cell and put them and Morgan in there to create the connection between the world of what’s called CGI (Computer Generated Image) and the actual situation”.

great exhaustsCourtesy Press1

Each of the eight episodes that make up great exhausts it is based on an exhaustive investigation, which not only investigated the historical facts, but also spoke to some of the protagonists: “It took a long time. We have a team of producers, researchers and associate producers who send emails, call each other on the phone, and make calls to a number of people that you can’t imagine about each of the stories. Also, from the ‘escape report’. After the escape happens, the authorities create a document that records what happened, what went wrong, why the person escaped. So we investigated that, we also read it to be able to create the narrative, and thus reproduce it. We asked a lot of questions, we went to the Internet, we looked for relatives, guards, people who work in prisons. Our producers, for the most part, have experience in research. That was the basis for finding out the facts and then figuring out how to turn them into stories that were compelling and dramatic at the same time,” explains Geoffrey Sharp.

The rigor with which the previous work was carried out allows us to follow the alternatives of each chapter as if it were a suspense film. “We will show how they did it -explains Freeman-, step by step, the details at each moment, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year. Breaking out of a maximum security prison is probably one of the boldest attempts a human being can afford. And the percentage of ingenuity, courage, perseverance, and the importance of sticking to an activity that goes into doing something like that is probably one of the most fascinating things about human nature when you’re locked up in prison.”.

great exhausts
great exhaustsCourtesy Press1

And although the initial chapter meticulously follows the alternatives of Chapo Guzmán’s three escape plans, for the driver it was not the story that impressed him the most: “El Chapo had a lot of money to waste, and that made him build the tunnels. That money also allowed her to use GPS positioning to locate his people in the right place, under the prison, so they could get right into his cell. A lot of money. That’s different from just doing it on your own from the inside.”

Inevitably, the theme of the program led to delve into the voices for and against the prison system. In this regard, Freeman was blunt: “I think we need a place to house people, let me put it this way: they are anti-sociable. Because the criminal mind is first and foremost antisocial. But I don’t know, you know what prisons and correctional facilities are, they are punishment. If you do something bad they will punish you, you will pay for it. And you are going to lose your freedom, you are going to lose privileges as a free human being. Well, I think we need it. It’s misused, but what isn’t?

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Morgan Freeman, behind the lesser-known details of the most famous prison escapes


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