Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Movie of the Month: 'West of Memphis'

In 2011, after years of work from activists and celebrities, the West Memphis Three were released from prison after 18 years. In 2012, the culmination of their story was told in the heartbreaking but insightful film, West of Memphis, which was produced by Peter Jackson and his wife, Fran Walsh. West of Memphis chronicles the West Memphis Three as they were wrongly convicted of killing three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas in 1993. In 1994, they were sentenced to life in prison with the so-called leader of the group, Damien Echols, sentenced to death row. Around the time of their trial, HBO commissioned the documentary, Paradise Lost, which put this case into national spotlight. After the film came out, two sequels were made and followed the progress of the men in prison but also helped raise awareness for them as well. As the films came out, people like Henry Rollins, Pearl Jam, Johnny Depp, Dixie Chicks, Marilyn Manson, all came out to try and lend support to free the men. One of the celebs was Peter Jackson, who helped finance a new legal team to get their case reopened. West of Memphis, directed by Amy Berg, chronicles the push to get the men out. Now, as they all live free lives, the film is a testament to how corrupt the American judicial system is and how the power of the people is not blind to injustice.