I really really enjoyed watching “The Thin Blue Line”. Any doubts I had about Errol Morris after watching “Gates of Heaven” are now gone. I was fascinated from start to finish.
Our society is very determined that justice should always be served. The root of our desire is to ensure that bad acts are followed by bad consequences. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. However, Morris has eloquently shown us how good intentions are severely distorted by the flaws of human nature. We are peppered from every direction (movies, TV, books) and told that there is good vs. evil and good must win at any cost. Again, I believe this is a basic human instinct and it is a good one. The problem occurs when people allow themselves to be overcome with selfish desires. In this case, the investigators were selfish in wanting an arrest and trial as fast as possible (regardless of evidence) or even Mrs. Miller who always wanted to be a detective. Very selfish. What’s the consolation of justice when a man is convicted and you’re not a 100% sure the murderer is that same man? I wonder how anybody could live with themselves knowing they sentenced the wrong man to death? Perhaps they are so past feeling they have nothing to worry about.
I was interested when Morris said in his interview that he does not believe in the death sentence. He did not openly state his point of view in the movie, although I think one can’t help but feel uneasy when the image of the electric chair is shown while Randall is talking about what happens when a man is electrocuted. Whether or not I agree with the politics of Morris, I give him credit for making a movie with so many messages laced throughout. On the surface, a story of a murderer on death row and how he got there. Beneath that surface, a story about people and their need for vengeance (not justice), flaws in the judicial system, prejudices, rationalization, etc…Well done.
I found this article about Capital Punishment (from policyalmanac.org) and I found it interesting. It’s not very long and it has a brief history about the death penalty as well as a couple for and against arguments. Humans are fascinating and I find it interesting the systems we have created for ourselves.
Here’s the last part of the movie where David Harris is talking about his childhood etc…It’s really and interesting part because it starts with the cop talking about Harris and it’s chilling. Then, we’re taken to Harris and he talks about his family and tears up. It’s as if we’re being asked to determine if he really is a cold-hearted murderer or just a person with a troubled past. Very interesting.
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