Documentary recaps Amanda Knox trial

Marley Parish, Features editor

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Almost nine years since the murder of Meredith Kercher, a 22-year-old woman who was found dead in her apartment in Perugia, Italy, Netflix revisits the case in an original documentary called “Amanda Knox,” made by filmmakers, Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn. With interviews from the lead Italian prosecutor in the trial, Giuliano Mignini, Journalist Nick Pisa, Amanda Knox, and Knox’s boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, the film walks audiences through the facts and calls attention to the confusing nature of the crime. The documentary was released on Oct. 30.

Kercher’s murder was international news, and the press played a key role throughout the investigation and trial, painting Knox as a sexual fiend whose sexual history became a weapon used against her in the case. Blackhurst and McGinn created an insightful recount of the dramatic events, opening the documentary with footage from the actual crime scene.

The directors began the film’s production in 2011. The finished product gives viewers an honest recount of the dramatically publicized trial, which is the documentary’s strongest point. The directors’ approach allows Mignini, Pisa and Knox to speak their minds and tell viewers their different and unique perspectives in a candid setting.

The documentary opens with Knox’s voiceover, that helps set the mood for her portion of the film.

“There are those who believe in my innocence, and there are those who believe in my guilt,” Knox says. “There’s no in between. And if I’m guilty, it means that I’m the ultimate figure to fear, because I’m not the obvious one. But on the other hand, if I’m innocent, it means that everyone is vulnerable, and that’s everyone’s nightmare. Either I’m a psychopath in sheep’s clothing, or I am you.”

Knox remains unreadable throughout the duration of the film, making it challenging to decide whether or not to sympathize with her.

The Italian justice system is framed in a negative way, hinting that Knox was wrongly accused. The documentary recounts how Knox was bullied during questioning, falsely informed that she had HIV while in prison and how her private diaries were released to the press.

The film alludes to Knox’s perceived guilt being a direct result of Italy’s conservative Roman Catholic population. Mignini describes Knox as “totally irrational,” “uninhibited,” and the type of woman who “brings boys home.” Throughout the investigation and trial of Knox, Mignini painted her as a wild American party girl, and the press covering the events ate this picture of Knox up.

“If you could imagine a girl different from Amanda in every imaginable way, it would be Meredith,” Mignini says.

Blackhurst and McGinn include shots of Mignini praying as a voiceover plays.

“Amanda Knox” serves as a commentary on the media’s obsession with violent crimes. It focuses on how the media coverage shaped the world’s perception of Knox.

“It was a particularly gruesome murder, throat slit, semi-naked, blood everywhere,” said Pisa, former Daily Mail journalist. “What more do you want?”

Pisa comes off as happy and proud of his part in the Knox trial. He was one of the first journalists to obtain and publish her private diaries. Transitions in the form of headlines flash on the screen as Pisa explains his popularity and his increasing amount of bylines as a result of the trial. He compares the feeling of seeing his story on the front-page to the rush of having sex. He also participated in feeding the “sex-crazed man-eater” persona of Knox by publishing her MySpace profile pictures and revealing her nickname “Foxy Knoxy.”

Pisa comes off as a carefree and attention-seeking man, and the upbeat background music that conveniently plays during his interview scenes does not do much to help. By shining the spotlight on Knox during the trial, he was basking in the limelight as well.

Pisa admits that some information that was printed during the trial was crazy and made up.

“But hey, what are we supposed to do, you know,” Pisa said. “We are journalists, and we are reporting what we are being told. It’s not as if I can say, ‘Alright, hold on a minute, I just want to double-check that myself in some other way.’ Then I let my rival get in there first before me. And hey, I’ve lost a scoop. It doesn’t work like that, not in the news game.”

Documentaries for the wrongly convicted have created their own genre, but “Amanda Knox” is filled with feelings of unease and skepticism. After watching it, I still do not know whether or not to feel bad for her. The facts are jumbled and confused. Knox does not come off as a person who has been wrongfully accused. She is monotonous and unreadable, and it is incredibly difficult to feel bad for her, or even begin to trust what she is saying.

The documentary is more concerned with the media circus and the hard-headed prosecution that characterized Knox as a sex-driven seductress. No new information is presented throughout the documentary in regards to the case itself. Viewers are also not given any information about what Knox is doing today or what her plans are for the future, but they are made aware of the media’s role in the case. The documentary subtly blames news outlets for Knox’s wrongful conviction.

“I think people love monsters,” Knox says at the film’s conclusion. “So when they get the chance, they want to see them. It’s people projecting their fears. They want the reassurance that they know who the bad people are, and it’s not them. So maybe that’s what it is. We’re all afraid, and fear makes people crazy.”

There is no moment where everything is resolved and viewers get a feeling of fulfilment. Blackhurst and McGinn do a fantastic job of bringing all of the loose ends together as part of one documentary, but they do not inaccurately tie the loose ends together. “Amanda Knox” ends with an eerie sense of mystery, where viewers are forced to create their own happy ending or assume the worst.

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