If one thing is proven true with the release of Amanda Knox, the latest Netflix original documentary, it’s that our culture’s recent obsession with true crime entertainment has finally given birth to a platform where even the most tangled media webs can be undone and laid bare.
Directed by Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn, the film tells the story of the American college student Amanda Knox who was tried and convicted of murder while studying abroad in Italy in 2007. The story captured the attention of people around the world for the better part of two years with headline-grabbing rumors of crazed sex acts gone wrong, orgies, and a wide variety of sensationalized stories that painted Knox as everything from a whore to the spawn of Satan. All of this was never proven or substantiated in any way, of course, and to some extent that is what the film is hoping to help the world understand.
Blackhurst and McGinn provide Knox, Raffaele Sollecito, prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, and ’Daily Mail’ journalist Nick Pisa with a platform to tell their experiences in their own words while also making the actual evidence as clear as possible, but a considerable amount of screen time is also dedicated to reflecting on how the media handled the story once the public showed interest in knowing more. Flickers of crime scene footage and photographs serve as transitions between talking heads until the story moves into the multi-year legal proceedings that ultimately divided people all over the world.
The question the film asks more often than anything else is one as old as time: Why? Given what we know to have been true about this tragic story from day one, why did Amanda Knox become a poster child for “bad” women all over the planet? Why did the public ever question her side of the story in the first place? Why does it seem that a person must fit a certain criteria for normalcy in order to be seen as an equal and not a lesser? Why did so many stories change as the proceedings stretched from months to years?
To its credit, Amanda Knox does find many of the answers it seeks. To think someone walks away from the film giving serious consideration to the notion Knox committed the crime in question seems highly unlikely. Suspicions of who the actual murderer may be do arise, but the only culprit the film proves to be guilty beyond the shadow of a doubt is the media. A good portion of the film is spent examining the media circus around the case, how it came to be, and what influence it had on the global perception of Knox in the months and years following the initial court decision. The most intimate details of her life—as well as those of the other people involved in this case—were put on display for the public for no reason other than filling the demand for content in an age where people consume headlines more often than they do the stories that accompany them.
What is left unsaid, but probably should be noted, is that the team behind Amanda Knox has been rallying for her freedom since day one. The film is essentially a culmination of years spent gathering whatever proof can be found to build a case for Knox having no involvement in the murder of her former roommate. This should be obvious given the fact Knox herself appears in the film, but it still should be said that the motivations behind the creation of this documentary are not necessarily unbiased. The film sets out to prove innocence, and to its credit I believe it has.