85. “The Thin Blue Line”, Errol Morris (1988)

Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen List.

The Thin Blue Line

The Thin Blue Line

dir. Errol Morris (1988) cin. Robert Chappell and Stefan Czapsky

In 100 words: Can a movie save a life? This one did. Morris’s documentary intelligently unveiled the failures of a judicial system by breaking down one by one the evidence that led to the detention of an innocent man. The amount of damning detail that Morris extracted from his interviews is breathtaking. Meanwhile, his recreation of events was gorgeously shot in colors and angles that recall 40s noir and MGM musicals. Glass’s music and the set design added a level of detail that made real life feel more cinematic and dynamic. Blue Line is an excoriating expose of the imperfections of criminal justice.

Other Movies for Context: The Thin Blue Line provided a new way for audiences to absorb true-crime dramas with all these recreations. IDtv produces these shows regularly using the same (if not to the same effect) formula that Morris basically does here. Otherwise, the only other movie I’ve seen from Morris is The Fog of War, which is an amazing examination of American military ideology through Robert McNamara.

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