Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, presents a gripping courtroom thriller, offering a rare and revealing inside look at a high-profile murder trial. In ... See full summary »
Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, presents a gripping courtroom thriller, offering a rare and revealing inside look at a high-profile murder trial. In 2001, author Michael Peterson was arraigned for the murder of his wife Kathleen, whose body was discovered lying in a pool of blood on the stairway of their home. Granted unusual access to Peterson's lawyers, home and immediate family, de Lestrade's cameras capture the defense team as it considers its strategic options. "The staircase" is an engrossing look at contemporary American justice that features more twists than a legal bestseller. Written by
What I liked about The Staircase was it was told at a more relaxed pace than 42-minute (minus ads) shows such as 48 Hours Mysteries or Real Crime. We get to see things in a lot more detail like life back at defendant Michael Peterson's home, investigations of crime scenes, locations, and discussions throughout the way.
Unlike the shorter shows you don't have to be paying attention 100% of the time, I missed an episode by accident and it didn't seem to make a huge difference. Unfortunately there's no camera teams sitting in on the prosecution's side so we don't see the trial from every perspective, but we see what they present in the courtroom at least. The prosecution's case was pretty convincing but the evidence the defence presented cast doubt on most of their theories. I tried not to form opinions either way and was interested only in the evidence, or what conclusions could be drawn from the evidence available.
In my opinion the jury decided the verdict more on emotion than anything else, and I was surprised that each and every one of them had reached a point where they were beyond any reasonable doubt. I did not see the whole testimony as I was not sitting at the trial for days, but based on the "highlights" presented, the jury's certainty made me wonder.
The Staircase was must-see viewing for me by the time of the final episode, there's a lot of material with eight episodes but it was all relevant, I guess a trial needs that many episodes to really give a feel for what it's like. One thing that surprised me was that the cameras had full access throughout the proceedings as well as the aftermath. Peterson's family and lawyers seemed comfortable, although I'm guessing it wasn't "The Osbournes" with cameras there night and day.
I thought The Staricase was a fairly unique documentary, and I think most people would find something of interest in it.
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