Example Of The Thin Blue Line Book Review
Type of paper: Book Review
Topic: Vehicles, Social Issues, Evidence, Crime, Officer, Motel, Time, Hotels
The Thin Blue Line was released in 1988 and was directed by Erroll Morris. The documentary revolves around the case of Randall Dave Adams who was sentenced to life imprisonment for a murder of a police officer in 1976. Errol Morris proposes the idea that Randall Dave Adams was innocent of the crime he was convicted of.
Errol Morris takes the audience through the case from the beginning to the end. He points the unreliability of events surrounding the case as well as the unreliability in several witnesses’ statement. The story arises in 1976 during Thanksgiving. Previously, Randall Adams and his brother had left from Ohio and were heading towards California to look for work. They stopped in Dallas and Randall Adams found a job which would pay their way to California. On November 27, 1976, he went to start his new job only to find that no one came as it was the weekend. On the way back to his motel, his car breaks down. He hitches a ride with David Ray Harris. Errol Morris reveals that prior to meeting up with Adams, David Harris was driving a stolen car along with his father’s pistol and shot gun. Adams spends the day with Harris watch a drive-in movie and drops him at the motel where he was staying. The same night, Officer Robert W. Wood stops a stolen car of North Hampton as its head lights were not on while driving. With his partner waiting in the car, he approaches the vehicle from the drivers end and is shot twice and killed. Harris becomes involved as he brags to his friends that he committed the crime. This leads the authorities to interrogate him. He then points out Randall Dave Adams shot the officer in question. Harris keeps pointing out through interviews that David Harris was 16 at the time and a minor in the eye of the state. This leads investigators to solely zero in on Adams as the culprit. The female officer in the car gives circumstantial evidence as to pinpointing Adams as the killer. Two witnesses, Emily Miller and her husband who drove in the passing car claim to have seen Adams to be driving the vehicle at the time. These witnesses’ statements are brought into question by Morris as improbable due to the fact that having a clear view of the driver in the middle of the night in a passing car is unlikely.
The prosecutor Douglas D. Mulder has a 100 % win ratio. He has never lost a case and makes it his priority to convict Adams. Errol Morris provides a clear argument that Mulder was complacent in looking into the background of David Harris and his whereabouts before the scene of the crime. Another element that pops up is the timeline. Adams contends that he arrived at the motel around 9 pm while the crime took place around 12 pm. He insists that there is a two hour time difference in every event that took place on that faithful day. Even his first meeting with Harris took place at 9-10 a.m. while Harris contends it was around 12 pm. Through the use of cinematic imagery, interviews and plausible evidence, Errol Morris shows the injustice that was dealt to Adams through the course of the investigation and the trial. The most damming of evidence comes at the end of the film which highlights the last taped interview between Morris and David Harris in 1986. In it, Harris in very ambiguous terms speaks to the innocence of Adams as well as his willingness to say anything to stay out of jail.
Through the course of the documentary, Errol Morris showcases how unreliable the human factor is. Adams was convicted on eye witness testimony as opposed to strong physical evidence. The truth is demolished and overlooked by ego as opposed to a willingness to admit fault. With each subject that is interviewed, Errol Morris coaxes the inability of individuals to admit fault or their unwillingness to delve underneath the surface. In the end, Errol Morris illustrates human beings are fallible and whilst the legal system is not perfect, human being have an innate ability to make it far more complex.
The Thin Blue Line. Perf. Randall Adams, David Harris. Miramax, 1988. DVD.