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21 03, 2017

The Thin Blue Line (1988) – Dir. Errol Morris

By | 2017-04-21T19:23:31+00:00 March 21st, 2017|Categories: #1 TRUE CRIME|Tags: , , |0 Comments

1988, 101 minutes © The Thin Blue Line – Errol Morris

Its impact as a piece of non-fiction filmmaking, and on the course of events after its release, has been pointed to as a milestone marker for what a documentary can achieve. Like the true crime authors of the 1960s and 1970s who had immersed themselves in their subjects’ narratives, either acting as adversaries or advocates for the people they wrote about, Errol Morris, in The Thin Blue Line, acts as an avenger for the wrongly accused Randall Adams. Rather than focusing on the ‘how’ or the ‘why’ of the crime itself, Morris is interested in the aftermath of the murder—probing such questions as: what went wrong with the investigation? And who, or what should be blamed for this miscarriage of justice? To answer these, Morris introduces a strong critical impulse within the film, carefully juxtaposing scenes and testimonies—much in the manner of the 1950 masterpiece Rashomon (dir. Akira Kurosawa)—all relating information about the same fateful evening, but none quite alike.
Influenced by the aesthetics of the film noir, Morris also makes an extensive use of crime-scene re-enactments to recreate the scene of the murder and expose the discrepancies in the accounts of the witnesses, police, and suspects. Filmed in a style akin to the 1940s fiction movies, with low-key lighting creating high contrast-ratio between the highlights and the shadows, these re-enactments are a way, for Morris, of suggesting that the eyewitnesses’ testimonies are not the whole truth, but merely their subjective versions of the event, as they think it has happened. “Truth,” as Morris argues, “is the central goal, but it is an elusive one. […] You search for truth through investigating endlessly and, if you are lucky, you find something approximating it.” Through the exploration of the inner thoughts of his controversial subjects and the slippery nature of the narratives they produce, Morris engages the viewer in a critical reflection about the meaning and limits of knowledge in the documentary’s quest for truth. As he examines the troubled subjectivity of his ‘protagonists’ and dissects the machinations of their so-called expertise, Morris reveals some of the most harmful and devastating flaws of his subjects’ minds: vanity, self-deception and thoughtlessness.

21 03, 2017

Paradise Lost trilogy (1996, 2000, 2011) – Dir. Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky

By | 2017-04-21T19:24:05+00:00 March 21st, 2017|Categories: #1 TRUE CRIME|Tags: , , |0 Comments

1996-2000-2011 © Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills – Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky (1996) / HBO

On May 5, 1993, the bodies of three eight-year-old boys were found next to a muddy creek in the wooded Robin Hood Hills area of West Memphis, Arkansas. A month later, with increasing public pressure on local law enforcement to find the criminal(s), three teenagers—Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols, and Jessie Misskelley—were arrested and accused of raping, mutilating and killing the boys as part of a satanic ritual. Despite the lack of evidence tying them to the crimes, all three were convicted in 2004: two received life sentences, one—Damien Echols, the alleged leader of the group—the death penalty.
Shot over a period of eighteen years, the Paradise Lost trilogy paints the picture of a community gone mad with fear and prejudice, lusting for revenge no matter the cost. The films not only influenced the proceedings of the case—weeks only after the gory triple homicide had taken place—they also impacted the viewers in an unprecedented way, rallying support across the country for the release of the wrongly accused ‘West Memphis Three.’

21 03, 2017

O.J.: Made in America (2016) – Dir. Ezra Edelman

By | 2017-04-21T19:26:06+00:00 March 21st, 2017|Categories: #1 TRUE CRIME|Tags: , , |0 Comments

2016, 467 minutes © O.J.: Made in America – Ezra Edelman / ESPN Films

You may think you have seen everything about ‘The trial of the century’, but O.J.: Made in America—winner of the 89th Academy Award for Best Documentary—will prove you wrong. This seven and a half hours examination of celebrity status, justice, masculinity, politics, media and most of all race, is a masterpiece of precision, a feat of tireless research compiled in a clinical yet deeply human way.