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The Pledge is a 2001 mystery film directed by Sean Penn. It is based on the 1958 novella Das Versprechen: Requiem auf den Kriminalroman (The Pledge: Requiem for the Detective Novel), by Swissmarker author Friedrich Dürrenmatt. Dürrenmatt wrote the The Pledge to refine the theme he originally developed in the screenplay for the 1958 film Es geschah am hellichten Tag (It Happened in Broad Daylight).


Jerry Black is a retired detective, who during his retirement party decides to join one of his colleagues in one last case. The case involves the molested body of an eight-year-old girl, found in the mountains of Nevadamarker. After breaking the news to the girl's parents, Jerry makes a pledge to the distraught mother that he would find the killer. The "chief" suspect is a mentally challenged Native American who commits suicide during an interrogation.

Jerry doesn't believe that he is the killer, however, so he begins investigating. He learns that two similar incidents had occurred in the area. Mindful of the pledge he made, he buys an old gas station in the mountains, and searches for a tall man who calls himself the Wizard, using clues from a drawing done by the murdered girl. He is the only person to suspect that a serial killer is involved, and his obsession with finding the killer begins to erode his sanity as he strives to keep his promise.


The film was shot mainly on location in the British Columbiamarker interior in Canadamarker. While the opening scenes were filmed in Reno, Nevadamarker, the rest of the film was shot in Keremeosmarker, Princetonmarker, Hedleymarker, Merrittmarker and Lyttonmarker, all in British Columbia.



Critical response to The Pledge was generally favorable, but the film did not fare particularly well at the box office.(2001, May 15). " US directors laud Cannes audiences", BBC News
"International critics praised The Pledge when it opened in the US in January, but its box-office takings were mediocre, despite an acclaimed performance by Nicholson."(2001, January 25). " Legal spat forces Penn film out of Berlin",
"The Pledge opened in the US last weekend to respectful reviews but lukewarm box office." Its domestic receipts grossed approximately $19 million USD, with foreign receipts adding another $9 million, leaving the total well short of the film's budget, estimated at between $35 and $45 million.


  • Sean Penn for the Golden Palm at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival
  • 2002 for the Danish Bodil
  • Benicio Del Toro 2002 for the ALMA Award
  • Brittany Tiplady 2002 for the Young Artist Award
  • Hans Zimmer 2001 for the World Soundtrack Award


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