For the 10th week of 2022 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We go into the subject of falsely accused as it play into those falsely accused of a crime and the need to prove that person’s innocence. Here are my three picks as it is in the form of a trilogy of documentaries on the West Memphis Child Murders by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky:
1. Paradise Lost: The Child Murder at Robin Hood Hills The first film in the trilogy revolves around the death of three young boys in West Memphis, Arkansas where three young teenagers in Jesse Misskelley Jr., Damien Echols, and Jason Baldwin were accused of murder. Many believe that the teens were part of a satanic cult because they listen to heavy metal and have an interest in the occult. The film also interviews the family of the victims and the families of the accused where it reveals a lot of complexities into the case but also a lot of questions into what happened on that day.
2. Paradise Lost 2: Revelations The second part of the film released four years after the first film as it explore the aftermath of the trial where Misskelley, Echols, and Baldwin all maintain their innocence with Echols being faced with the death penalty. It also brings a suspect in the father of one of the kids murdered in John Mark Byers due to his confrontational behavior though he is later proven to be innocent. The film also reveal some of the corruption within the West Memphis police in how they forced Misskelley to make a false confession leading to many questions than answers over the murders.
3. Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory The third and final film of the trilogy released in 2011 just more than a decade after its predecessor isn’t just about a new case made for the accused in proving their innocence but also some new revelations about a new suspect in one of the children’s stepfathers in Terry Hobbs. John Mark Byers reveals some things about Hobbs as he also believes that Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley are innocent as there’s a great scene of Byers reading a series of corresponding letters with Echols where they both share their experience in being falsely accused. Though the film’s conclusion is a bit unsatisfying in what Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley had to do to be released from prison with the murders remaining unsolved despite a lot of the evidence towards Hobbs in murdering the kids. The film does at least showcase that there is indeed a miscarriage of justice involved but with a sense of hope that these murders will be solved.
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