Along with 's Paradise Lost, The Thin Blue Line should be mandatory viewing for those who believe that the criminal justice system eventually convicts only. Read the Empire review of The Thin Blue Line. Release date Erroll Morris originally intended a documentary about an American eccentric. In his documentary, "The Thin Blue Line", Errol Morris explores the murder case of police officer Robert Wood and the man convicted for the murder, .
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This real-life Rashomon confronts viewers with several versions of "the truth. Adams, responsible or not, was determined guilty by the courts and sentenced to death.
Despite having a police record as long as his shadow, David Harris became the primary witness against Adams in the case.
The Thin Blue Line Review
His testimony alone might not have hung Adams, but at the last minute a trio of eyewitnesses to the crime emerged to corroborate his story. In the world of Errol Morris, people are a truly strange lot, and his greatest technique is to simply let his subjects talk and talk until their inherent weirdness becomes painfully evident. Such is the case with the three last-minute witnesses in the Adams case. The more we hear them speak, the greater that uneasy feeling in our stomach and chest becomes.
We are bearing witness to a catastrophic miscarriage of justice.
Morris employs a bottomless bag of tricks in this landmark film. While much of the film does rely on the presence of talking heads, he adds other elements to the mix, such as old movie footage, a haunting score by renowned composer Philip Glass, and the granddaddy of documentary no-no's: The latter tends to be the most challenged aspect of The Thin Blue Line, but Morris uses it fairly and wisely.
He tells this twisted tale in ways few people could. A shot of a swaying timepiece or a concession stand popcorn machine suddenly amount to much more than what we're simply seeing on the screen. All of these pieces are being put together, little by little, in the hopes that by the end we will see the bigger picture. When this movie was released init was marketed as a non-fiction film, because the word "documentary" was thought to scare off ticket-buyers.
The studio's attempts to pass it off as a murder mystery failed, but the movie made a minor splash once it hit video. It picked up plenty of awards from festivals and critics groups, but the Oscars didn't even bother nominating it.
In fact, the Academy didn't so much as nod in Morris' direction until earlywhen they nominated The Fog of War, his powerful, relevant look at former U. Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara.The Thin Blue Line Trailer
That film and Morris' two previous masterpieces, Mr. His first three films, Gates of Heaven, Vernon, Florida, and The Thin Blue Line, were recently made available either individually or in a 3-disc box set. All six of these films are unique, intriguing portals into Mr. Morris' strange universe, which is not so distant from our own.
While it is true that Morris is actively trying to construct Adams as innocent and is by no means impartial, he did find the defendant truly innocent. Clearly Morris did not act with self-indulgence, taking on the case of a truly guilty person to see if he had the ability to persuade audiences that the guilty person was innocent. Rather, Morris was genuinely interested in exposing the mistrial and chose film as his medium of exposure.
However, even though Morris seems to defend the choice of film, he too recognizes the pitfalls of the medium such as the fact that truth cannot accurately be depicted with film either.
"The Thin Blue Line" and the Ambiguous Truth - Inquiries Journal
One of the strangely omitted interviews is with District Attorney Doug Mulder who was highly influential in the conviction of Adams.
Morris also left unanswered questions at the conclusion of the film including whether Randall Adams had ulterior motives behind spending the whole day with underage David Harris.
The fact that these questions are left unanswered strengthens Morris argument that the truth is hard to decipher. In other words, the schema makes sense of the given information and takes it furthers, completing the rest of the picture. For example, when we hear of somebody going to get a haircut, we envision how that scenario transpires and what events occur. However, schemas and scripts can lead to incorrect understandings of the actual truth. By examining mental constructs such as schemas and scripts, it is possible to see how different presentations of the same story can beget radically different interpretations.
Conversely, Morris persuades his that Adams is innocent after telling a story of an overeager prosecution, unreliable witnesses, a delinquent David Harris, and of a poor Randall Adams who was caught up in everything.
The way stories are presented and the subconscious schemata and scripts everyone carries in their heads strongly affect perception, so it is logical that jurors would deem Adams guilty because of how the prosecution framed the case and it is logical that audiences would find Adams innocent because of how Morris framed the case. Even though Morris is calling attention to the existence of these prejudices, he is also presenting his own carefully crafted version of the Adams case.
By doing so Morris wants his audience to understand that these mental constructs exist while simultaneously appealing to these same constructs. However, when the movie was released, Adams was not yet exonerated; even though Morris successfully argued his case, Adams remained behind bars and nothing had changed.
Since the release of the film, Randall Adams has been exonerated and David Harris has all but confessed to the murder. If we continue believing that the truth is always so clear-cut, succumbing to the influence of scripts and schemas, and blindly accepting what we have been told, we may once again partake in a similar form of reality making.
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An Interview With Errol Morris. Errol Morris takes on the Abu Ghraib. The New York Times, 3 April