Amanda Knox Review: Perspective is Key – True crime documentaries have become somewhat of an epidemic as of late. Since the beginning of 2015 we have seen The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, Making a Murderer, O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story and The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey, all of which have received huge media coverage. While there are many more not mentioned, all of these series / documentaries had the same appeal factors – murder, disbelief and questionable police handling. The newest documentary, fitting into this same category, aired on Netflix on September 30th. Originally debuting at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Amanda Knox has been the topic of conversation, safe to say, worldwide since it aired. This is not only due to the fact that crime stories are becoming a thing of obsession for everyone, but due to the global aspect that the murder case originally had.
Amanda Knox and Meredith Kercher, both students, shared a house while taking part in an exchange program in the small town of Perugia, Italy. Amanda, from the US, and Meredith, from the UK, did not know each other prior to sharing their accommodation. On November 2nd, 2007, Amanda called the police after she couldn’t enter Meredith’s locked bedroom. Amanda and her Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, became the prime suspects after Meredith’s bloody body was discovered on her bedroom floor. A media frenzy ensued, where Amanda was presented as being a sex crazed ‘foxy knoxy’ and she and Sollecito were convicted of the murder. However, in 2011, both were acquitted.
The issue of perspective has become a hot topic among popular crime shows. Other crime documentaries, most obviously being Making a Murderer, have received criticism for the emphasis placed on telling the story in a certain way. Most would agree that this specific documentary was clearly in favour of Stephen Avery’s innocence and the show was produced in a way that led the viewers to be convinced of the same. However, Amanda Knox does not fall into the trap of ‘taking sides’. The documentary establishes a neutral ground by presenting testimonies from a lot of those involved, no matter what side they were on; witnesses, journalists, suspects, police investigators etc. The only exception being Meredith Kercher’s family, who did not take part. Some may argue that Amanda Knox herself plays a distinct role in the documentary, but so too does the public prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, as well as the incredulous Daily Mail journalist, Nick Pisa.
The documentary is presented in a way that incorporates footage from the time of the murder and interviews with those involved – each equally weighed in viewing time. While the story of Amanda’s guilt has always been the forefront of the murder, the documentary instead focuses on presenting the facts and the evidence, detailed by those who were there. Viewers are able to observe the crime scene through original photos, as well as footage, listen to the testimonies from Amanda, Sollecito, Mignini and Pisa, and in doing so, leaves judgement up to those watching. The saying goes “honesty is the best policy”, and the documentary certainly appears to get an honest statement from the majority involved, most controversially, Nick Pisa. However, was this blunt description of events from Pisa merely a tactic by the producers to shift blame and hatred onto someone other than Amanda? One could argue this and one could also argue that his truthfulness can’t be polished.
Without giving away spoilers, Amanda Knox is most definitely a documentary to put on the must-see list. For such a publicized crime, everyone seems to have a preconceived idea of guilt or innocence. The documentary, however, will most probably sway opinion in a certain way. While the majority appears to be swayed in one direction by the end, there are those who still need more – questions answered, things explained, statements deciphered – before they can make a final judgement. Once again, Amanda Knox’s verdict has become a public decision, yet this time, the consequences are not so dire.
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