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West of Memphis - Film Review

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by Rebecca Kerr (subscribe)
Freelance writer/photographer living in Perth, Western Australia. Visit my website
Published January 22nd 2013
Are you a fan of documentaries?
If you have not yet heard of the West Memphis Three let me fill you in:

In 1994, three teenagers, Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, Jr. and Jason Baldwin, were convicted of the murder of three eight year boys. The murder of the three boys was seen to be the result of a satanic ritual, making Damien Echols the main suspect, who coerced his two friends into performing the act. The films 'Paradise Lost' and its two sequels helps to paint the picture of this horrible crime, which took place in a small community town.

The West Memphis Three photographed after their arrest in June 1993 by the West Memphis Police Department (Wikimedia Commons)

The film, 'West of Memphis', follows the development of the case and how new evidence conflicted with the conviction of the West Memphis Three. Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, WingNut Films, approach Damien Echols' wife, Lorris Davis, showed their support in the injustice of how this new evidence did not lead to any development. In order to help this process, Jackson and Walsh aided in funding the investigations into finding new evidence which eventually helped the West Memphis Three be released. The film details the events from when the 'witch hunt' began and how the 'West Memphis Three' were trialled and convicted with inaccurate evidence. We are shown how the initial trial was flawed and who the real suspect of the murders should be.

Written and Directed by Academy Award nominated filmmaker Amy Berg, this documentary helps to share the story of these three boys who were wrongly convicted, only to be released from prison as men later in life. This is a very enjoyable eye opening film about how people can overlook evidence in order to put blame on someone and have closure. A story of human behaviour in anger, despair, compassion and triumph.

West of Memphis
'West of Memphis' Special Screening at Luna Leederville Sat 19th Jan.

My only negative view on this film would be the jumpy editing at times. Also this would have been much better as a two part feature film. Sitting in the cinema for 149 minutes is a little long for me personally, and I really do wish that I had known how long it was (silly me, didn't do my research) as I had only minutes at the end of the film to get back to my car before the parking expired.

All in all, I really enjoyed this film, and highly recommend that everyone watches this. You may even see similarities in the Perth case of Andrew Mallard, who was wrongfully convicted of murder in 1995, only to be released in 2006 after being found innocent.
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Why? An interesting crime documentary
Where: In cinemas from 14th February
Cost: Check with your local cinema
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