The Defense Rests – The Thin Blue Line (1988)

Be careful in Texas.  Proving that not all is final after the gavel rings, this is a documentary that successfully proved a man innocent after being found guilty of murder by our justice system.  This is a film that really puts things in perspective; yes, we, as a people, see movies all the time that successfully entertain, some better than others, but at the end of the day, they are still just movies.  Here is a case when a movie actually made a difference, freeing an innocent man who was wrongly imprisoned under false pretenses.  To my knowledge, there aren’t any other movies out there that can boast such a claim.

1Get ready, detectives.

Now despite this being released in the 80’s, I didn’t watch this until only recently.  Both my wife and I have liked what we’ve seen in the Netflix series Making a Murderer and what we’ve heard in the podcast Serial, so it was a pretty easy choice in determining which movie we would watch off the list next.  This compliments both of those shows nicely, and it really is an experience to be had: justice unserved, and a wrong that needs to be made right.  If you were in a better position from a legal standpoint, you would help to rectify this, wouldn’t you?  The Thin Blue Line is all about presenting to you a case and letting you put the pieces together yourself.  This type of affair can have the tendency to be slanted; Making the Murder definitely is, Serial definitely is not, and this falls somewhere in the middle.  But much like a court case, so much of what determines how you view right from wrong is in how the story is woven.  If I am not mistaken, I believe this is one of the first movies to utilize real-life reenactments like they do here, and you get to see the same crime scene a number of different times, and it changes with who is telling their account.

2I’m  pretty sure that America’s Most Wanted would never have existed without this movie.

Like many of these real life crime stories, this will make you angry at local law enforcement.  Given the manner in which these cops operate, you would think that they would be held to higher standards; for example, there is a main point in gathering evidence against this man where hypnosis is brought into the case.  I cannot fathom a modern case where this could possibly be used as admissible evidence, and it is upsetting when you see it here.  You get a number of different sides to the story, and the way that this is presented, it is not hard to assess people by their moral character.  The Thin Blue Line is fascinating and unique, and it paved the way to how a number of different crimes stories are told today.

The Thin Blue Line (1988) ****

– Critic for Hire


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