Why ‘Making A Murderer’ Is the Best Show You Can Watch Right Now
Mihir Fadnavis tells you why you should drop everything and watch ‘Making A Murderer’
A few months ago the Vishal Bhardwaj written Talvar took us on an emotional journey of two real life people accused of murder and imprisoned despite the lack of tangible proof. The investigation was bungled, and to bury the potential embarrassment for the police department the cops made sure the accused were locked down with contrived evidence that doesn’t hold much logic but is sensationalist enough to work. It was depressing and discomforting. It made us long for the judicial system in more developed countries.
Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos’ ten part series Making a Murderer follows a similar track but it makes the Talvar case seem far les sinister. Even developed countries with robust judicial systems can be bent over with the right cocktail of vengeance and corruption.
1. A Murder In Daylight
We’re greeted to spine chilling footage of a press conference where the Sheriff’s department of the Manitowoc county in Wisconsin explains how Steven Avery brutally raped and murdered a woman. The victim being a photo journalist makes things personal for the journalists at the conference, and thanks to the television reports Avery becomes a household name.
The most unsettling aspect of Making a Murder is how for the first few episodes it constantly makes you wonder if Avery really did it. In one moment the cameras follow mounting proof against him, each piece of evidence so disturbing you’re convinced he deserves to be behind lock up. The next moment the film shows what the cops could have done to plant evidence against Avery.
The fifteenth time this happens you’re left an emotional wreck. But when things do become clear as to what really happened, nothing can prepare you for the outrage that begins boiling inside you.
2. A Master Class In Editing
Editing a film for months is a nightmarish process but what Ricciardi and Demos have achieved with Making a Murderer is something special. The filmmakers had ten years of footage to piece together into a cohesive story, and the final film’s smooth narrative masks all the editing hell they no doubt went through. Ricciardi and Demos had been following Avery’s case with their cameras since 2005, documenting all the ups and downs in and out of the courtroom. They also had to splice together material from prior to 2005, and their findings are just explosive.
3. A Cinematic Documentary
For a documentary the film has incredibly high production values – from Gustavo Santaolalla’s haunting music to the True Detective style opening credit sequence. It’s gripping but it’s also endlessly entertaining.
If last year’s Serial revolutionized the way we consume a murder mystery, Making a Murderer makes you wonder if it’s ok to regard this film as entertainment, considering you’re watching a real person go through hell. Either ways it’s another demo of Netflix proving that binge watching for 10 hours is going to be a standardized format of entertainment. It’s not really a mini series, it’s a ten hour long film.
4. A New Hope
It was about righting a wrong. Avery’s case had to expand beyond the sinister borders of Manitowoc county. People needed to understand how far people in power would go to sweep the dirt under the carpet even at the cost of human life. Few other films have had such a powerful influence on the viewers to turn a case around.
Thanks to the film the lawyers defending Avery in 2005 have discovered a ton of new evidence that could handily demonstrate what happened on that fateful night. And there’s been a huge backlash over the internet as people who watched the film signed online petitions to set Avery free.
Even Barack Obama was handed a petition document for a presidential pardon – unfortunately there’s little even the president can do seeing as the case is bound by state law and not by federal law.
5. The Effect
After watching Making a Murderer you’ll no longer be a casual observer of the justice system. This is the kind of film that makes you question the very basics of law and the necessity of transparency in judicial decisions. The jurors that found Avery guilty are never revealed in the film – so how does one get an objective opinion on their transparency and bias.
One man, who was excused as a juror tells the filmmakers that two people in the jury had already made up their mind that Avery was guilty, and no amount of evidence to prove the contrary could change their minds. Avery was denied parole multiple times, and was denied an appeal in the Supreme court, so how do we know the cops didn’t pressurize the jurors?
The best effect that the film has had is that the famous attorney Kathleen Zellner, who specialises in setting wrongfully convicted inmates free has decided to represent Avery and will personally look into his legal options and fight.
(Mihir Fadnavis is not only a film critic and journalist but also a certified film geek who has consumed more movies than meals.)
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