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It's hard to put into words how moving this documentary series was. The
view of this work from 30,000 feet is perhaps that it is a beautiful
but tragic depiction of the powerful versus the powerless in the
context of the American criminal justice system, and a haunting
reminder of what human beings are capable of when we believe the ends
justify the means. The view on the ground - from a very intimate front
row seat in Steven Avery's hometown of Manitowoc, WI - is that one man
likely endured not one, but two of the most egregious injustices
One thing that sets this series apart from previous shows in this genre (like NPR's Serial) is that the producers never once make an appearance on camera, nor does the viewer ever hear their voices, at least not in a literal sense. Instead, they rely on interviews, court proceedings, news clips, and telephone and video recordings to tell the story, often against the backdrop of the Avery's family compound. In a simple and clean way, the series is beautifully shot. And the story itself... unbelievable. But even the most reasonable, even skeptical viewer will have to grapple with the theories put forward. Theories that would seem a reach at best if it weren't for the overwhelming hard evidence unfolding, on film, right before your eyes.
I started out by saying that it was hard to describe how moving this documentary was, and I actually found myself transitioning through the same emotional states (albeit to a much lesser degree) that the key figures seemed to experience: from shock and disbelief to anger and ultimately to a sense of despair.
To me, what separates television and film that constitutes true "art" from that which is merely entertaining, is that it reveals something perhaps not so obvious but nonetheless true about human nature or the human experience. This easily surpasses that standard, but what makes it particularly chilling is that this is not a carefully constructed fictional plot designed to pull our heart strings. This actually happened. And it happened to real a person. To a real family.
Making a Murderer documents the true story of Steven Avery, sent to
prison under questionable circumstances, exonerated on DNA evidence 18
years later, and accused of murder shortly thereafter under equally
MaM, ten hours long, is gripping throughout. The story is revealed chronologically, paced so perfectly to leave the viewer gasping at regular intervals, yet never feeling manipulated. But make no mistake: the filmmakers do have an opinion. And by the end of MaM, it is an opinion you will share.
The comparisons to gems like Paradise Lost and The Jinx are inevitable. Up until now, Paradise Lost represented the pinnacle of the genre; MaM tells its story similarly, yet surpasses PL. Where The Jinx, an otherwise excellent documentary, left me with a bad taste, feeling that the truth played second fiddle to its filmmakers' ambitions, MaM never focuses on its creators. The drama is narrated only by the players, the argument made convincingly by historical footage, media and police manipulation made plain not by rhetoric, but by the simple evidence provided by context.
Avery's story, as presented in MaM, is a horrifying story that leaves one infuriated at law enforcement, politicians, and news media. Not generally one for righteous indignation, this was the first series I've ever watched from which I had to take regular breaks out of sheer rage. Avery's story is not a pleasant or uplifting one. But it is as well-told as any I've seen.
This is one important documentary. This shows just how wrong the justice system is in America. Im from Sweden and did not know anything prior to this series. But If you have - like me, been reading and seeing other documentaries of this kind. You know this have happened several times. It makes me sick. When it comes to Brendan and his statement I immediately started to think about Jessie Misskelley. A boy with below average IQ and was one of three teenagers that got falsely accused of murdering three young boys in Memphis. He also made a "confession" after the cops had lured and guiding him towards what they wanted to hear. Anyway, I hope that one day, the truth will come out and the ones, that still walks free, get the judgement they deserve and that Brendan and Steven Avry will get their freedom back. This is something everyone should see. If I were a parent I would show it to my kids, if I was a teacher I would show it to my students. I will recommend it to everyone I know.
This documentary series potentially depicts the greatest miscarriage of
justice on American soil as the producers go out to prove that Stephen
Avery, a Wisconsin resident, is purposely being made a scapegoat for
crimes he did not commit.
The series possesses the hallmark quality of Netflix's original programming:'bingeability'. Once you get a grasp of what it is all about, you just continue on with the flow until the documentary reaches its conclusion.
An important point if you are coming fresh from the similar true crime series, The Jinx, then you might feel that this documentary series doesn't put as much emphasis on flair and reenactments. Instead the approach is based on journalistic substance with a lot of focus being placed on police reports, recordings, court documents etc. However, I found the series intro theme to be hauntingly beautiful. It really gets stuck inside your head.
Like The Thin Blue Line, Murder on a Sunday Morning, and Paradise Lost documentaries before it, the approach is overwhelmingly in favor of the defendant. You feel like you are witnessing a great injustice unfold before your eyes. There is little room for you to argue that Avery is guilty. But with the amount of evidence both substantial and circumstantial presented in Avery's favor, there is certainly little to argue anyway.
In conclusion, I would recommend this documentary to anyone into true crime. It really is well-prepared and worth a watch despite being a tad exhausting due to its length.
A documentary is supposed to document the facts of something, not pick
and choose which facts to use and then cleverly edit the video and
audio recordings in order to cause a social media uproar and promote
your own careers.
I wish there was law to protect victim's families from people like Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos. These filmmakers are masters at taking things out of context and using those things to promote the story they are trying to spin.
I'll admit that I was absolutely captivated by the first few episodes which lay out how Steven Avery was convicted of a crime he didn't commit and how the Manitowoc police department failed him in many facets of the investigation and subsequent incarceration.
Having said that, when I was watching the episodes related to Steven Avery's trial for raping and killing Teresa Hallbach, I found myself saying, "No,,,No,, NO WAY can he be found guilty... NOOOO WAYYY!!!" I couldn't understand how a jury might convict him if they were seeing the evidence we as viewers we seeing.
So, I researched the case on my own. I read the transcripts from the multiple confessions Branden Dassey gave and looked over ALL of the evidence which wasn't covered in this film. I quickly realized why Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos left out so much of the evidence. The reason is, the evidence they left out is completely irrefutable. They couldn't take it out of context and make it look like something else, or cast doubt on it. If they hadn't left out all of the extremely damaging facts about this case, no one would have ever heard about their "documentary" because it is a clear cut rape and murder committed by a child- molesting animal-torturer and previously accused rapist who had been stalking the victim:
If you care at all about this case and the rights of the victim and her family, please do a quick search for what the filmmakers omitted.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am very upset with Netflix for posting this documentary as if it is a
non-partisan take on the Steven Avery trials. I truly believe now,
after my research, that they exploited a single side of this story to
generate more press and take air time from Amazon Prime Video. Before
you watch this and start throwing things at the TV for the injustice of
the system (like I did), make sure you do your homework about the
actual facts of the case. Netflix LEFT OUT several KEY ELEMENTS of the
-the murder weapon being found (registered to Steven) and the bullets found in the garage belonging to it -Halbach's camera and phone both being in the fire remains -Steven's non-blood DNA on the hood latch of Teresa's car -the FULL Dassey testimony, which cites SEVERAL things that aren't in the documentary that are far more incriminating that was shown
and several other details.
Go find them yourself.
And now I feel TERRIBLE for feeling so negatively toward Theresa's brother in his interviews with the press about the testimonies. I thought he was a very misguided, blind man. Now I know there is every reason to suspect both Steven and Brendan for the charges.
Like most people I was unfamiliar with this case before watching this "documentary." And like most people, I was disturbed as the makers of the film started to create real doubt as to the guilt of this man. Little insinuations and open ended segments are put in that make you scream "what is going on here!?" However, unlike most people that have watched this series, I started to research the court records of this case. I started to examine the actual evidence and testimony. I went beyond just getting my information from this show. What I found was probably the most open and shut case in the history of mankind. You had a truly evil human being, that had motive (the desire to rape and kill women). means (he was the last person to see the victim alive) and more physical evidence than you can shake a stick at. The man made numerous anonymous attempts to lure this woman on to his property, there is no evidence of her ever leaving his property, her vehicle and remains were found on his property... it is open and shut. As for the defense's case, they did not have one. They simply relied on "it is a conspiracy." But there is not one example of them ever expanding on or proving that conspiracy. So many facts all but scream, Avery did it, from his numerous attempts to lure the nervous victim on to his property, numerous incidents of his abusing women and others, his feeling that his being wronged in the past allowed him to do anything he wished to women, the actual physical remains of her body on his property, along with her vehicle, all of which he tried to cover up. I will not even bother with the numerous incriminating events in his background and numerous people that heard him brag about what he did. Steven Avery is a very bad man and a very guilty man, the testimony in court proved that, which is why the jury convicted. Anybody that would take the time to actually examine the case on their own, instead of simply relying on this extremely deceptive and manipulated "documentary," would know that. People have said this is a disturbing documentary, I agree. It is disturbing, because some manipulative filmmakers decided they were going to create a documentary to con thousands of people into thinking a guilty person was innocent, and they did just that. They mixed and edited a film that turned black in to white and up in to down. They banked on a viewing audience being too lazy and inflamed to actually take time to examine the real facts of the case. That is evil almost in the realm of Steven Avery.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I watched all ten episodes of this original Netflix series over the course of two days, which will give you an idea of how immersive and compelling it is. Why the low rating then? Simply because this documentary is not really a search for truth in the case of Steven Avery, now a convicted murderer, than it is a biased presentation of one side of the story Avery's side. Ten minutes of fact checking after my binge viewing revealed a wealth of damning evidence, along with a disturbing picture of Avery's criminal history, that is nowhere mentioned in the documentary as it attempts successfully to portray him as a railroaded innocent, a victim of police corruption and duplicity. If anything, the documentary does provide an inescapable indictment of the Wisconsin criminal justice system for that it gets 3 stars. You get a visceral sense of how powerless most indicted nobodies are before a system that is stacked against them. But at the end of the day, this documentary fails in its main task, which is to provide all the pertinent facts, and let viewers draw their own conclusions. For that reason, even though I enjoyed it from beginning to end, I feel it is essentially a waste of time a slick presentation of a single point of view, with critical facts hidden when they support a different conclusion than the filmmakers clearly started with.
Its too bad the film makers decided to edit out some very crucial
Why not include the key evidence that jurors based their decisions on?
At 8:12 a.m. on Oct. 31, the day Halbach was killed, Kratz says Avery called AutoTrader magazine and asked them to send "that same girl who was here last time." He says that Avery knew Halbach was leery of him, so he allegedly gave his sister's name and number to "trick" Halbach into coming.
"Phone records show three calls from Avery to Teresa's cell phone on Oct. 31," says Kratz. "One at 2:24 p.m., and one at 2:35 both calls Avery uses the *67 feature so Teresa doesn't know it him...both placed before she arrives.
"Then one last call at 4:35 p.m., without the *67 feature. Avery first believes he can simply say she never showed up so tries to establish the alibi call after she's already been there, hence the 4:35 call. She will never answer of course, so he doesn't need the *67 feature for that last call."
You all really need to look at all the evidence. Not just what these movie makers put in front of you. There is a good interview with the prosecutor in PEOPLE magazine.
Several jurors and the prosecutor have issued statements and given interviews.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A fair documentary would detail the prosecution arguments, the defense
arguments and detail in full the evidence used to convict and then
honestly evaluate that evidence. Instead of clearly explaining all the
evidence used to convict and the full arguments of both sides this
series simply chose to post misleading evidence and arguments that
suggest Avery is innocent and a victim of a miscarriage of justice.
Since the only way that Avery could be innocent is if the most extensive framing in all of US history was engaged in that is effectively what the defense argued in court. However the defense found nothing to substantiate these grandiose allegations. A great deal of deception is employed by the producers to give the false impression that the planting allegations of the defense are true and were substantiated. The producers intentionally chose not to reveal the full extent of evidence against Avery because the notion every bit of evidence was planted is absurd.
To try to pretend the police had a motive to plant evidence there was a great deal of deception built around Avery's civil rights lawsuit. Not a single thing was portrayed accurately about the lawsuit which actually had no legal leg to even stand on. The producers could not even be honest about the amount of the lawsuit. The demand was for an amount of at least $1 million and as much as $18 million, which Avery's lawyers arrived at by saying he could be entitled to up to $1 million for each year in prison. He was actually only in prison for 12 years as a result of the rape conviction that was vacated. The first 6 years he would have been in prison anyway for a different crime his sentences ran concurrently (served the same time). So even if by some miracle he got $1 million for each year in prison (which is unheard of) he still would have only received $12 million.
The county's insurance company defended the suit and settled it for $400,000. They settled it because it would have cost more in legal fees to settle the suit than to fight it. Even if there had been a judgment returned against Manitowoc it would have no impact on the police who handled the Halbach case. The series tries to give the false impression that they stood to personally lose which is nonsense.
The suit was settled in February 2006 before some of the evidence was even found. What evidence was found after? Well for one thing a bullet with Halbach's DNA that had been fired by Avery's rifle thus proving someone shot her in Avery's garage with Avery's rifle and the bullet either grazed her or exited her body. Who had access to Avery's rifle? Only him, no one else had a key to his trailer. The lawsuit was over at this point so the supposed motive of police to plant evidence at this point ceased to exist. That is likely why the series fails to discuss this evidence.
A number of times the documentary presents misleading evidence instead of the full story. For instance it suggests it is fact that pieces of Halbach's pelvic bone was found in the quarry. Left out is that burned animal bones were found in the quarry which is close to a hunting area. When looking through these animals bones the expert saw 2 small bone fragments that based on the shape could have been small pieces broken off of a human pelvis. But small bone fragments are not unique in shape, it could just as easily been fragments from an animal. The 2 pieces were tested and the tests failed to establish either was a piece of human bone. So it was simply an unproven suspicion that 2 bone fragments among the animal bone fragments were human. The documentary elevates this to fact omitting the part of the testimony that reveals the full story. This kind of deception is used throughout the series to try to fool viewers. The series alleges that this proved she was burned in the quarry and then her body was moved to Avery's burn pit. What the true evidence establishes is that Halbach was burned in Avery's burn pit and then at some point Avery shoveled some of the ashes from his pit into the burn barrels at his sister's house and in the process some bone fragments were shoveled into a barrel there. There were already animal bones int he barrel so perhaps he decided to hide them among those fragments. Whatever the reason this is the only movement of bones the evidence supports. The notion someone burned her in the quarry and moved all but 2 bone fragments to Avery's burn pit and put some in Barb's burn barrel as well for good measure is nonsense.
If you want to learn the true facts about the Halbach murder you will have to look somewhere else.
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