O.J.: Made in America Review – Part 2

It’s really an American Tragedy

In one word, this documentary, movie, TV miniseries, whatever you want to call it, is masterful.  O.J.: Made in America should be used as a prime example of telling the story of a complicated man who had the highest highs and lowest lows.  The craftsmanship, the access to archival footage, the interviews, the pacing, the themes are all masterful.  This is a truly special documentary that is able to shine a different light on the O.J. Simpson trial without having the main focus be the trial.

Only two parts of the five total focus on the trial.  The first two displayed his career as a star athlete, his celebrity, and his personal relationships.  The final part focused on his fall from grace and his addled mind and demons taking over his psyche, ultimately making him pay the price, as the court system gives him an unruly sentence.  And through all five parts, the focus of this truly American story is on race.  After my review of the first two parts, I am happy that the film focused on the way race identity played in the courtroom and during the 267 days of trial deliberation.  Yes the documentary is centered around the murders of Nicole Simpson and Rob Goldman, and yes the documentary leans in the direction that O.J. was guilty, but it more importantly takes the time to display and dissect all of the events that led up to the case, how the outside world affected the case, how racism and hope for justice can dictate so much, and how the case affected the life of O.J.

The length of the documentary gives every facet of the story proper time to develop and for the viewer to understand how it relates to the case.  Whether it’s focusing on the Rodney King trial, the LA riots, Nicole Simpson’s abuse, Mark Fuhrman’s use of racial epithets, or the public ridicule of Marcia Clark, the documentary presents most subjects objectively and clearly.  It is surprising too at how much the documentary shows, not in terms of the story, but of the trial details.  At one point, almost without warning, the documentary lingers on the close up view of Nicole Simpson’s slashed throat.  It is a grisly image, one that is shocking and horrifying to view.  The documentary isn’t afraid to show the entirety of the trial, the ugliness in O.J.’s life and crimes.  The film’s vision is complete, thorough and clear.

You, as the viewer, can follow the director’s, Ezra Edelman, vision and story trajectory with the utmost clarity.  From the jury selection to the infamous Hitler comparison in Johnny Cochran’s closing argument, the documentary paints what went right and what went wrong for both sides.  Edelman was able to gain access to the lawyers on both sides and performs in depth interviews that allow for detailed analysis of the trial, and it’s riveting.

True crime is so hot right now you can’t escape it; some of the recent documentaries are good, some are bad.  O.J.: Made in America rises above the rest because it is so riveting, because it is so detailed, and because it’s thesis is so clear and thoroughly defended.  This documentary shows how race and American obsession with celebrity affected a double homicide court trial.  Ezra Edelman’s astounding film shows how this idolized man got away with murder, until his hubris, his need for attention, his inability to escape the life he once attained caused him to fall hard.  As the ghostwriter for the insane book If I Did It stated, “It’s really an American tragedy”.  And he’s right, it’s a story only could happen here, in America.

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