“Amanda Knox” a raw look at the media

The documentary is another feather in Netflix's growing cap.

Missy Gerlach, Staff Reporter

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This past week, I attended a meeting for students planning to study abroad. Around 20 students and myself anxiously sat together, waiting for the speaker talk us through the process of choosing and applying to the available programs. As my eyes scanned down the long list of cities and countries where I could study and live, I grew excited thinking about the future. What waited for me in New Zealand, South Africa, Indonesia or Austria? I could only imagine.

Seven hours later, viewing the new Netflix documentary “Amanda Knox,” I watched as police discovered the dead body of Meredith Kercher, an English university student studying abroad in Italy. Suddenly I realized I might not be as ready to leave home as I had thought.

“Amanda Knox” uses a collage of interviews, audio recordings, video footage from police investigations and more to give a vivid retelling of a murder trial that captivated audiences internationally for eight long years. The story begins in 2007, when Meredith Kercher was discovered dead in the house in Italy where she lived with Amanda Knox and another student. The prime prosecutor quickly accused Knox and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, and when the media discovered the story, rife with violence and romance, a media whirlwind ensued that captured the attention of  the world.

Directed by Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn, “Amanda Knox” is a well-crafted movie that forces viewers to form their own opinions about Knox’s guilt. The film moves through the evidence and trials, carefully choosing when to reveal details so the viewer experiences the case as it actually unfolded. Throughout the entirety of the film, changing verdicts and the introduction of new evidence leaves the audience constantly without answers. Interviews bring the viewer quite literally face-to-face with the main players of the trial, making them look into the eyes of those they judge. Beautiful shots of the small town where the murder took place serve as a chilling reminder that horrible things can happen even where we least expect it.

The goal of the documentary is clear from its beginning: to have the viewer choose their own stance on the guilt of Knox. The film embarks on this goal by showing the two sides of the story, with personal interviews by Knox, Sollecito, lead prosecutor Giuliano Mignini and a journalist from The Daily Mail, Nick Pisa. These differing perspectives and the ever-changing verdict leave it up to the viewer to ultimately decide how they feel about the case.

However, the movie is not wholly successful in removing its biases and subtly sways viewers towards the defendants. Although the media and prosecution are represented, their interviews leave the viewer with an unpleasant image of the two men. Pisa’s focus on the story and lack of empathy for those involved in the trial condemn the entire media as self-centered and uncaring. Mignini’s over-confidence and unwavering certainty casts the prosecution as rash. While these individuals might be well represented, the prosecution was not one man and neither is the media. By representing these fields by a singular figure, the film oversimplifies both the prosecution and the media and fails to remain completely impartial.

Despite this, “Amanda Knox” is another successful attempt by Netflix to transition from being purely a film distributor into the world of film production. Although it might just make you think twice about studying or traveling abroad, the film’s real value lies in the issues about the media, representation and more. The thrilling story and deliberate choices of the filmmakers construct a documentary that delivers both as entertainment and interacts with viewers on an intellectual level.