The Thin Blue Line (1988)
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Critic Reviews for The Thin Blue Line
Documentaries have changed minds, championed causes, and even reversed policy, but The Thin Blue Line (1988) may be the first film to free a man from prison.
...engaging as a procedural and compelling as a meditation on the nature of truth.
Morris was working in a dangerous middle ground between the traditional documentary and the fictional feature film, and his merging of various techniques paid off in a film of singular uniqueness in both its aesthetic approach and its real-world impact.
The Thin Blue Line is one of the films that helped make documentaries a viable entertainment option for arthouse moviegoers during the indie-film boom of the 1980s and '90s.
Audience Reviews for The Thin Blue Line
Morris' central achievement in my opinion is placing the viewer non-partially into the judge's chair and, in very, very quiet tones, simply asks you to be the judge, to make a decision: who is the murderer here? The evidence is placed before you without fanfare; the murder, the accused, the suspected, the witnesses, the suspicions, the allegations, the conjecture, the blame. I was in the midst of deciding before I realised how skillfully I had been made to give a damn.
"A softcore movie, Dr. Death, a chocolate milkshake, a nosey blonde and "The Carol Burnett Show." Solving this mystery is going to be murder." A film that successfully argued that a man was wrongly convicted for murder by a corrupt justice system in Dallas County, Texas.
A disturbing look at a judicial system infected with chaos and corruption, specifically in the true story of an innocent man named Randall Adams who is sentenced to life in prison for a murder he did not commit. Instead of feeling the need to put his own stamp on the story, director Errol Morris, like he did in "Gates of Heaven", elects to let the people tell the whole story. The result is a detached though interesting case of a good man who got caught in the wrong spot at the wrong time. The negligence by the Dallas County Police is nothing short of repulsive, as they continually ignore the facts of the man they should be going after, instead looking for a quick fix find to nab someone so that they can find closure for the murder of one of their own policeman. It feels longer than it is at 100 minutes, and I would have liked some sort of way to feel more attached and emotionally invested to the story, but I still found myself interested and wanting to see Adams let go. It did not happen when this film came out originally, but the influence of this movie was so great that it prompted the case to be re-opened, and Adams was released in 1989. In addition to providing a saddening story about a chunk of a man's life ruined by a lazy judicial system, this movie also serves as a testament to the power and influence film can have on our society. It can free a man from prison.
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