This documentary by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky details the murder trial of Delbert Ward. Delbert was a member of a family of four elderly brothers, working as semi-literate farmers ... See full summary »
Documentary on the Friedmans, a seemingly typical, upper-middleclass Jewish family whose world is instantly transformed when the father and his youngest son are arrested and charged with shocking and horrible crimes.
In the spring of 2002, filmmaker Joe Berlinger traveled to Vienna to witness the burial of the preserved brains of over 700 children killed at a Nazi "euthanasia" clinic. GRAY MATTER ... See full summary »
Berlinger and Sinofsky's documentary of a gruesome triple murder in West Memphis, Arkansas and the subsequent trials of three suspects, takes a hard look at both the occult and the American justice system in 'small-town' America. Three teenagers are accused of this horrific crime of killing three children, supposedly as a result of involvement in Satanism. As in their previous documentary, things turn out to be more complex than initial appearances and this film presents the real-life courtroom drama to the viewer, as it unfolds. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
Damien Wayne Echols:
I knew from when I was real small people were gonna know who I was, I always had that feeling... I just never knew how they were gonna learn. I kind of enjoy it now because even after I die, people are gonna remember me forever. People are gonna talk about me for years. People in West Memphis will tell their kids stories... It'll be sorta like I'm the West Memphis boogie man. Little kids will be looking under their beds - "Damien might be under there!"
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Despite all the praise this documentary has received, I did not find it very moving at all. Granted, it was a horrible crime, and the footage of the three young victims' bodies was shocking and almost unwatchable. But most of this film serves only to expose the extreme incompetence of everyone involved in the case.
With regard to the wrongly(?) accused boys -- never have I seen three innocent people put up such a weak, pathetic fight for their innocence. Most of the time, they stare doe-eyed and slack-jawed in front of the camera, seemingly uninterested in their own fates. Sure, these boys were only 16-17 years old and very scared, but they seem to have no intuition for survival whatsoever in this life-or-death situation. Any realistic grasp of the situation eludes these boys completely -- they behave almost as if they're playing a part in a movie. It is quite possible, and perhaps even probable, that they are indeed innocent, but they themselves do not seem to care, and so dear viewer, why should you?
The overwhelming impression I get from these boys is that they lead very boring lives in a very stagnant town, and they know that this whole case is the most exciting thing that will ever happen to them. They seem interested not in the issue of their guilt or innocence, but rather in the surreal quality of their quasi-celebrity (in the end, Damien waxes romantic over the notion that his name will become famous in West Memphis as a synonym for "bogeyman", scaring generations of children to come). They are genuinely pleased with all of the attention they're receiving -- not that they have much to say, but they're just happy that someone is asking.
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