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A Monster's What

01:00 Fri 07th Jun 2002 |

Billy Bob Thornton and Halle Berry

in Monster's Ball

Halle Berry won her Best Actress Oscar for her role in Monster's Ball, recently released to widespread acclaim in the UK.

It is a dark story, centred, according to its scriptwriters, on "a custom in mediaeval England, where prisoners awaiting execution were called "monsters" and the night before they were put to death, their jailers would hold a macabre drink fest--known as a "monster's ball"--to send them on their way. "

The phrase is used in the movie by central character, Hank Grotowski (Billy Bob Thornton).

A ruthless hard-drinking, misogynist career prison officer (this is not a laugh-a-minute movie) Grotowski declares: 'In England, they used to give the condemned man a party the night before' called it the Monster's Ball. We owe it to him. I don't care what he done, we got to make the last hours easy as possible for him.'

Like all good web-based trivia, this has been repeated countless times, and spread in various other forms of Media.

(The Times dares to differ, suggesting the tradition was of the 18th century rather than being mediaeval).

But again, like so many 'facts' distributed on the web, there is a something of a lack of evidence to support the claim.

Obvious reference sources have produced nothing, and the doughty team at Her Majesty's Prisons say "We have neard heard of anything like that" but have promised to dig further on our behalf.

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