The Peter Jackson produced film West of Memphis premiered this year at the SunDance Film Festival. Since then the film’s made its rounds at film festivals around the world, gained the attention and support of thousands, and brought to light the notion that our justice system is not flawless; we are humans, capable of wrong judgment, putting other humans behind bars.
From director Amy Berg (Deliver Us From Evil) and co-writer Billy McMillin comes the story of the West Memphis Three, a trio of teenagers (Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley) tried and convicted for the murders of three 8-year-old boys (Stevie Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers) in Memphis, Arkansas in 1993. After spending 18 years and 78 days incarcerated, the three suspects were released on October 29th, 2007, when new evidence revealed the men were wrongly convicted of a crime they didn’t commit.
Since its beginnings, the trial has gained the attention of several supporters who’ve back the boys’ innocence, most notably Jonny Depp, Henry Rollins, and Pearl Jam guitarist and vocalist Eddie Vedder. At the Toronto International Film Festival Depp had this to say:
“I believe it was Henry Rollins, also a longtime supporter and friend of Damien’s, who said it, and it’s absolutely true: it could have been any of us […]Because, what, you look different? [The authorities] put their eyeball on Damien and didn’t take it off, even though everything around them — they didn’t look at the insane amount of holes in the case. They just looked at the guy with the black T-shirt and the long black hair. It was a witch hunt.” (Source – MTV)
The three men, who are now in their thirties have a lot of catching up to do as the world doesn’t slow down for anyone. West of Memphis isn’t the first film to document the effects of the horrific murders; the Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky directed documentary Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills is the first of three films, the last one being Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory. West of Memphis sheds a different light on the subject matter and focuses on the new evidence and occult beliefs surrounding the conviction.
The Power of Music
Music’s played a big part in the previous three documentaries and will continue to do so in West of Memphis, made apparent by the trailer as Pearl Jam’s “Tremor Christ” is used in the second half.
Black Flag vocalist Henry Rollins (actor, singer, novelist) made an appearance in West of Memphis to show his support. In 2002, he released an album titled Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three, and donated the proceeds to the case which helped out with the legal funds. The man’s beyond talented and puts in 100% to whatever he’s doing, whether it be music, his career or life in general.
Check out the trailer below and be sure to leave a comment. West of Memphis slams into select theaters December 25th, 2012.
‘West of Memphis’ Trailer