On the 14th August, part 3 of the Paradise Lost series of documentaries will be released on DVD (Region 1). I first became aware of these films when I was catching up with trophy contenders during the last awards season. Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory was nominated in the Oscar's Best Documentary category, and I decided to watch the previous two instalments first. I'm glad I did, as I consider it a privilege to have been able to watch the films one after another. I was instantly absorbed, as the story of the Robin Hills Murders and the West Memphis Three unfolded. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills immediately delivers a hefty punch, opening with real footage of the bodies of the three murdered 8 year old boys. We are then introduced to the families of both the victims and the accused, three teenage heavy metal fans that have seemingly been scapegoated on little more than being the local weirdoes and a rather unsound confession from Jessie Misskelley, who achieved just 72 in an IQ test. The local community are understandably angry and looking for resolution, but many are apparently willing to forfeit justice for revenge. The three films follow the initial trials and the subsequent developments, as the often shocking new evidence comes to light. We meet some fascinating and disturbing characters, and robustly held attitudes and positions change as the years pass. All three documentaries are at the top of their field, and if you can cope with the grimness and the heartbreaking subject matter, you will be rewarded with possibly the most consistently brilliant trilogy of films out there. Best to be seen without prior knowledge of the case, as this is seriously gripping stuff.
The editor of Now or Never! mulls over a selection on cinematic oddities for your amusement. More about Tug