Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

09 January 2008

The Thin Blue Line, dir. Errol Morris (1988)

NIKKI says:
As expected, The Thin Blue Line scared and upset me. There are enough film now to make "innocent people sent to prison" a genre, a section at the video store. This, Murder on a Sunday Morning, Paradise Lost, The Trials of Darryl Hunt, and others could sit together on a shelf, shaming the United States' court system.

The story, simplified, goes like this: a police officer is shot and killed during a routine stop. After some investigation, 16-year-old David Harris is picked up for the shooting (after bragging about it to friends). He then points the finger at Randall Adams, a drifter he hung out with that same evening. Adams is forced to sign a statement outlining the events of the night in question, which the cops then start to label a confession. Adams is tried and convicted, and sentenced to death.

Of course, it's not that clear cut, and throughout the film we learn the prosecution went to some shady lengths to ensure a conviction. It's clear early on in the film that doubt hangs all over the case and the eventual trial. The end of the film undoes the lot with a taped recantation from Harris played before the closing credits. It's no surprise then, that Adams was released from jail -- something that happened as a direct result of the movie.

Morris's style here is interesting to watch. I thought some of the theatrics, like the swinging watch to indicate hypnotism, were a bit over the top. Otherwise, Morris tells the story expertly, giving us the facts, then demonstrating how flimsy those facts actually are. It's hard to watch these cops and detectives justifying their lies and poor police work. Watching them with the benefit of hindsight is just sickening. Why is this allowed to happen? Since when was career advancement or the desire for swift resolutions reason to lie, to ruin lives, to eviscerate one's own credibility? Unless these people, like Judge David Metcalfe in this case, are just that stupid.

These films are so important. And we're so lucky to have people like Morris to fearlessly tear things up in this way. It's clear with the creation of similar films just how this film paved the way.


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