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The Thin Blue Line

The Thin Blue Line (1988) - Directed by Errol Morris

"If there was ever a hell on earth, it's Dallas County."

The Thin Blue Line is one of the most highly-reviewed documentaries in the world, and it took me a while to see it because I knew it was about police troubles. I'm going to level with you: I hate bad cops. I'll explain more about that in the review. But I've never been so engrossed in a crime-documentary in all my life.

The documentary is an analysis of the murder of a police officer and the trial and conviction of a man only framed for the murder by a braggart 16 year old. This man is Randall Dale Adams, a man with little to no history of violence and no criminal record, as opposed to the man who framed him: a convicted robber and braggart named David Harris. The film explains the many mistakes from the case and strong possibilities that he was not guilty.

The first stupid mistake the police make is trusting a braggart. Here's a stupid 16 year old everyone knows as a talker, and they think they can trust him? Second, police threatening people to sign a confession is proof of stupidity and refusal to admit their mistake. I don't mind good cops, but bad cops get my blood boiling. A lot of bad cops use their badge as an excuse to do what they want the in a similar manner to religious figures of the medieval times who used their authority to kill innocent people.

The whole Dr. Death scenario got on my nerves. Here's a man who spends most of his testimony bragging about his degrees, coming to the exact same conclusion he reaches 99% of the time no matter who he's talking about? It comforts me that in 1995 he was expelled from the American Psychiatric Association for such behavior. Yeah, I'm sorry people didn't realize how vain and clueless that man could actually be twenty years later. His job was to see if this "murderer" had no remorse, and after 15 minutes of talking with him, suddenly Adams is "Hitler" and "Charles Manson?"

And the Millers! Don't get me started on those self-absorbed argumentative "witnesses" who'll do anything for a quick buck. The sad thing is I don't think Adams would've had much of a chance if they weren't a part of the picture anyway.

Thankfully, Adams was released from prison after 12 years thanks to this film. In the aftermath, Adams was brought to a habeas corpus hearing and was released from prison. Personally, I hope people learned something from this. But I'm a little angry that it seems no one who took a part in the unlawful detention got just desserts. Maybe their reputations were a bit tarnished, but I don't really think that's enough.

The Thin Blue Line is one of the most informative and to-the-point documentaries I've ever seen. Not a moment wasn't vital to the case and the analysis, and in the end the documentary succeeded as a movie and as a serious testimony to the unfairness of Adams' incarceration. It's definitely a movie to take something home from.