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An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story (2013)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Biography, Crime | 11 March 2013 (USA)
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'Our procedure has been always haunted by the ghost of the innocent man convicted. It is an unreal dream.' - Justice Learned Hand, 1923. The prospect of unjust imprisonment is a plight both... See full summary »


Al Reinert, John Dean (co-director) | 1 more credit »


Al Reinert
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Nellie Gonzalez Nellie Gonzalez ... Herself - narrator
John Raley John Raley ... Himself


'Our procedure has been always haunted by the ghost of the innocent man convicted. It is an unreal dream.' - Justice Learned Hand, 1923. The prospect of unjust imprisonment is a plight both easily imagined and terrifying, and we all wonder how we might fare in such a grim circumstance. No case in modern America illuminates this condition more completely than the story of Michael Morton. in 1986 his young wife was brutally murdered in front of their only child, and he was accused and convicted of the crime, spending a quarter century in Texas prisons. His unreal dream was and is a powerful journey through despair and abandonment to a greater freedom than most of us know, but all can appreciate. Written by Al Reinert

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Talk about a long wait for a happy ending!
23 June 2014 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

An Unreal Dream is a documentary that will probably make you mad—and it should. After all, in a free society, huge miscarriages of justice shouldn't happen…right?! Well, that should be the case but it certainly wasn't with Michael Morton. Back in the 1980s, Morton's wife was savagely murdered as she was stabbed 19 times. There was little in the way of real evidence to show who the killer was at the time and in this case the prosecution didn't look very far or very hard. After all, often the husbands are the assailants and in Morton's case, it was just assumed he was guilty. On top of that, some of the jurors they interviewed were incredibly stupid and clearly did not follow the guidelines set for them. Some said that Morton was convicted because he 'didn't PROVE he didn't do it'! What about the concept of guilty until proved innocent?! Others said that although the evidence was scant, he looked and acted like he killed her. How was this? Well, apparently, Michael didn't look sad enough during the trial—a sure indication of his guilt!! However, it does get worse…much worse. After spending about 25 years in prison, his defense team was able to learn the truth behind the prosecution—and the truth sure wasn't pretty! What was the truth? Well, I won't say as it would spoil the film but suffice to say that the prosecutor ended up losing his license, being removed from the bench (he had become a judge in the meantime) and was given prison time himself!! So what is the rest of this story? See this captivating film yourself to find out what exactly happened.

Why did I like this film so much? Well, part of it was learning about the system's rush to judgment but most of it was because the filmmakers did such a thorough and effective job in presenting the story. They were able to tell Morton's story but not in a superficial way. You learn about him as a man—his religious conversion in prison, his ruined relationship with his son as well as how he coped with all those years in a hellish prison. It makes for incredibly compelling viewing. What also made this worth seeing is that like the best documentaries, this one struck an emotional chord. You cannot watch this film without getting mad or feeling sorry for the guy…or both! And, fortunately, it does have a happy ending or sorts—though nothing can give the man back 25 years of his life. Well worth your time and if you do see it, don't be surprised when you see Morton for the first time—he looks a LOT like George W. Bush with a little bit of James Caan thrown in to boot. I am not kidding about this!

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