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Multilayered Perspectives, Memory, and the Thin Blue Line

pfischer's picture


To return to a topic we discussed in last week's class about the idea of perspective, I want to focus this post on the idea that a multilayered perspective is more representative of "reality" than a singular narrative presence. Many people in the class felt that they had difficulty following the plot of F for Fake because of the incongruously layered and spliced approach to storytelling. Thin Blue Line used the same technique of multiple perspectives, but did so in a deliberate and almost heavy handed way.

That isn't to say it wasn't effective; rather the reenactments told from each person's perspective with minute or major changes were very powerful. In the staged reenactments of the crime, the emphasis was always shifting depending on who was remembering it. This speaks to the fact that yes, some of the storytellers were lying, but also the changing emphasis on details. A few of the key visuals that have stuck with me were the image of the milkshake being drank by Officer Wood's partner, Officer Wood slowly approaching the car from the left side, and the shots being fired. I think that I remember these details the most because they were present in most of the testimonies in the film. Does the fact that a majority of the people interviewed remember some of the same details mean that a majority vote can prove the 'truth' behind some components of the story? I think this film also really speaks to the fact that memory is a tricky thing, as evidenced by the scene when the car's rear bumper changes between two similar dark blue models: was it the Vega, or the Comet? The cars seem different enough when they are being compared right there for you over and over again, but that scene raises enough doubt about memory to be particularly effective.

Thin Blue Line seemed to be arguing the the justice system in this country was broken, or at least fundamentally and intrinsically flawed due to the over-reliance of juries and judges on witness testimony. The entire movie explores the different motives behind flawed or untrue testimony - 'I was just a kid' to 'I needed money' to 'It was dark.' The fact that the movie ended with one of the lawyers stating that he was unable to work jury cases anymore after the Adams case coupled with Harris' testimony that there were thousands of people out there who were wrongly convicted presented sort of an anarchic warning about the justice system - which does of course make sense given the movie's title and the story behind it.


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