Paradise Lost 3, Purgatory

The third film in the Paradise Lost series is a provocative and concise look at the errors in the justice system; rather than emotional testimonials, though it has many, it leans its elbows on new facts from DNA and circumstantial evidence. It has created celebrity out of the Memphis Three, which consists of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelly, who ever since they were convicted of the murder of three West Memphis boys have sustained their innocence, other than a temporary guilt plead from Misskelly, who was lead on by the police: he later revoked this on account of the polices pushing.

The film also nods to its earlier chronicles of the west Memphis three, and rightfully so; It has created an uprising that is worth analyzing in itself, with celebrities such as Johnny Depp and the Dixie chicks coming out in support of the re-trial. The power of film and documentary is displayed here, yet also how easy some people can be persuaded if facts are presented wisely. Though we here little from the people who think the boys still remain guilty–except extremely self-conscious moments where they refrain from talking intelligently–It takes a little bit of hypocrisy a long way; we are shown how police corrupt the judicial system through quoting out of context, interrogating for hours for a slip of wording from the interrogate, though this is little different than the editing being done in this film.

It displays great affinity for pace, through pans of the high-tops of a forest, most likely the one shown in the film to be where the murder occurred. We aren’t only told the details, we are also taken to the scene of the crime, where the boys were located in a river. Their is a somewhat eerie magnitude towards Damien Echol’s personality, a black-dressing, quiet, yet intelligent man. But I found Jason Baldwin to be very convincing, who through his time in jail became more and more articulate, and at first refused to plead guilty in order to be released; he agreed partly for Damien, who would be sentenced to death if not. He proved to be strong-willed. But one thing fails to quench my curiosity throughout these films: Where are the displays of emotional crisis? The crying, outbreaks, and natural sobs that would help so much to authenticate their innocence. Throughout, they take it like stunned kids: they are kids.

The film is a great, albeit scattered documentary about unjust witch trials in West Memphis. The people interviewed show the passion behind the unjust nature behind three boys’ conviction, as well as the passion of the filmmakers standing back and filming it all.

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