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WEST OF MEMPHIS – Movie review

| 1 May 2013 | Reply

Directed by Amy Berg
Reviewed by Dani Deville

West of Memphis movie

The trial of the West Memphis Three was a case that shocked and disturbed the civilised world. The fact that this was a case which involved the murder of three seven year old boys was not, as you might expect, the most shocking part about this case. It was the fact that this was a trial where a court of (let’s not beat around the bush here) heavily biased hillbillies hell bent on vengeance, condemned two teenagers, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley (the latter having the IQ necessary to be classed as mentally retarded) to life in prison and one teenager, Damien Echols, to the death penalty, despite a wealth of evidence that they had absolutely nothing to do with the murders.

As with the earlier HBO three part documentary, Paradise Lost, the film is a series of interviews with not only the accused themselves, but also the numerous people involved in the appeals and campaigning for the release of the West Memphis Three. This was a case which touched and outraged an overwhelmingly huge amount people throughout the world, including celebrities such as Henry Rollins, Johnny Depp, Eddie Vedder, Marilyn Manson and Peter Jackson (the producer of West of Memphis) to name but a few.

The biggest moments of the film focus on the cross-examination of some of the evidence which was allowed to be presented in the original trial and the outrageous conclusions at which some of the so-called “experts” arrived at to back up that which they wanted to be true, as well as some of the most glaringly obvious facts which were selectively left out of the trial. There were a few moments where collective gasps of disbelief could be heard throughout the cinema.

This very well constructed and sensitive documentary explores the trial itself, the evidence which was left out and the highly speculative evidence which was allowed to be included. Berg chooses some fantastic footage and beautiful imagery for her film: There are numerous shots of the interviewees driving around West Memphis, perhaps reflecting the journey the three accused were forced to undertake, as well as some of the more obscure footage from the time of the trial.

This is a must see for all seekers of truth and justice who, like me, enjoy feeling outraged as much as they enjoy a well crafted film.


Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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