Movie Poster
The Thin Blue Line
Errol Morris
101 min.


One in a long line of classics by Errol Morris (Mr. Death and Fast, Cheap and Out of Control are arguably even better), The Thin Blue Line examines a 1978 cop-killer case that landed an innocent man on death row (as innocent as anyone was in Texas in 1978). The film is, indeed, best known for its feat of actually leading to the man's release.

What's really revolutionary about it, though, is its style, its form. It completely forgoes the voice-of-god narrator (which is hardly unique to this film, but it is still notable). It features talking heads, but none of them are identified by supertitles, only by what we can make them out to be based on what they say. Giving the audience is, again, novel, welcome, but hardly revolutionary. That comes in the reenactments. Stylized mini-film recreations are shown illustrating the murder in question as described by the various conflicting witnesses and reports.

Like a documentary Rashomon, The Thin Blue Line examines larger questions about truth and justice, all sort of incidentally, while delivering a thorough, satisfying examination of the case at hand. But most importantly, Errol Morris is one of the few documentarians making films that are interesting independantly of their subject matter.

The H.A. in H.A. Rey stand for Hans Augusto. How fucking messed up is that?

Pat Jackson