The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann takes a detailed look at the disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine McCann, who vanished from the seaside resort of Praia de Luz in Portugal, while on holiday with her family.
The twisting, turning, stranger-than-fiction true story of the Brobergs, a naive, church-going Idaho family that fell under the spell of a sociopathic neighbor with designs on their twelve-year-old daughter.
Henry Lee Lucas was known as America's most prolific serial killer, admitting to hundreds of murders, but, as DNA results contradict his confessions, will they expose the biggest criminal justice hoax in U.S. history?
It's hard to put into words how moving this documentary series was. The view of this work from 30,000 feet is perhaps that it is a beautiful but tragic depiction of the powerful versus the powerless in the context of the American criminal justice system, and a haunting reminder of what human beings are capable of when we believe the ends justify the means. The view on the ground - from a very intimate front row seat in Steven Avery's hometown of Manitowoc, WI - is that one man likely endured not one, but two of the most egregious injustices imaginable.
One thing that sets this series apart from previous shows in this genre (like NPR's Serial) is that the producers never once make an appearance on camera, nor does the viewer ever hear their voices, at least not in a literal sense. Instead, they rely on interviews, court proceedings, news clips, and telephone and video recordings to tell the story, often against the backdrop of the Avery's family compound. In a simple and clean way, the series is beautifully shot. And the story itself... unbelievable. But even the most reasonable, even skeptical viewer will have to grapple with the theories put forward. Theories that would seem a reach at best if it weren't for the overwhelming hard evidence unfolding, on film, right before your eyes.
I started out by saying that it was hard to describe how moving this documentary was, and I actually found myself transitioning through the same emotional states (albeit to a much lesser degree) that the key figures seemed to experience: from shock and disbelief to anger and ultimately to a sense of despair.
To me, what separates television and film that constitutes true "art" from that which is merely entertaining, is that it reveals something perhaps not so obvious but nonetheless true about human nature or the human experience. This easily surpasses that standard, but what makes it particularly chilling is that this is not a carefully constructed fictional plot designed to pull our heart strings. This actually happened. And it happened to real a person. To a real family.
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