I watched Paradise Lost 3 last night. When I first saw Paradise Lost (the first film of three) around the time it premiered in 1996; I was 100% sure the three teens were innocent and railroaded by over eager police. I am not as sure now, I am more wise (or jaded perhaps) and I know how easy it is to tell the story you want to tell in a documentary. As filmmakers we select information to present. It is a fallacy to believe that anyone is truly impartial- all of us form opinions quickly and tend to follow the evidence that supports our opinion. Documentaries are not scientific approaches seeking pure truth. A good filmaker will test their theory or ideas and present counter arguments. In this case I have sought out alternative opinions and tried to read up on the case. I do believe the West Memphis Three (WM3) were wrongfully convicted as I do not think the circumstantial evidence rises to the level required to convict. I don’t believe we will ever know the truth of this horrific crime. One of the high points of the film for me was the commentary by John Douglas whom I respect deeply as a man who truly understands the criminal mind and motives. He innovated profiling in the 1970’s and 80’s.
I won’t rehash this case as many have done so and there is a wealth of information easily available online. There is also new theatrical film from Amy Berg and Peter Jackson that I have not seen. I urge everyone to view the documentary- if nothing else it demonstrates the power of film and media to change minds and influence movements and change. My hope is that in this case the movement was right and the WM3 are innocent of this crime.
Paradise Lost 3 is airing on HBO on demand. Warning: There are some graphic photos and video of the crime scene that might be tough for some to see.