West of Memphis (2012)

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West of Memphis: Directed by Amy Berg. With Michael Baden, Jason Baldwin, Holly Ballard, Jamie Clark Ballard. An examination of a failure of justice in the case against the West Memphis Three.

“Thereu0026#39;s no such thing as a nice murder, but the deaths of three children in West Memphs, Arkansas in 1993 seemed particularly horrific: the killer had apparently cut off his victimu0026#39;s penises and drunk their blood before throwing the corpses into a creek. The police promptly rounded up some local kids with a passing interest in Satanism, and a conviction as duly secured. Only later, amid mounting concerns over a potential miscarriage of justice, did it emerge that an incompetent pathologist had failed to recognise that the wounds were almost certainly inflicted post-mortem, and not by the killer, but by turtles. Not only had the wrong people been convicted of the crime, but the crime was perhaps just an u0026quot;ordinaryu0026quot; murder after all. But getting the State to agree was a further long struggle. Amy Bergu0026#39;s documentary charts the story. Itu0026#39;s horrific (the crime was still an awful one, even if not quite as originally portrayed, and the false imprisonment of the accused a second tragedy), fascinating, and beautifully filmed. On the downside, it is a bit long, and while it does a good job at suggesting who might have actually committed the crime, one can feel a bit uneasy about making such charges in a film like this (although one can also note that the authorities seemingly have no interest in re-investigating the case). More than anything else, the film is an interesting (and scary) look into the life of the American poor, a long way from the glitz of Manhattan. For many of the people we see in this movie, life would have been a hard, tough grind, even without the terrible events displayed. When one of the three accused finally gets out of prison, he tells us he isnu0026#39;t going back to Arkansas; and one doesnu0026#39;t feel like blaming him.”


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