Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"After Innocence" (Documentary) (2005) - Movie Review

“After Innocence” is story of real life Andy Dufresnes and more about the aftermath of their release which is not exactly a relaxing rest of the life on the shores of Pacific Ocean. It is follow up on some of the exonerated wrongfully convicted people of how their life is outside the walls of the prison where they did not belong. The years of wrongful imprisonment varies from 6.5 years to 22 years. And there is Wilton Dedge fighting for his DNA evidence to be admitted which would dismiss all his charges when the film starts. He has actually been through this process three years ago and for the sole reason of inadmissibility he has been in prison.

When the discussion of the judicial system in United States crops up, the knowledge of the subject would be through the educational information through “Law and Order” and other films talking in detail about it and I could safely state that an average person’s cognitive understanding of the system would be that much. And it has done its job of how complicated the procedure is and how mistakes are made as it is governed by humans. But how many accept those mistakes and how many guilty would use that admission as leverage for their wrongful innocence? These questions are unavoidable while watching this documentary by Jessica Sanders.

Once a doubt looms it would remain and the stain of it being removed is a long process if and only if the effort is made to understand and acknowledge the fact of it. There is a standard line uttered in numerous crime/court drama tamil films as “Nooru Kutravaaligal thappikkalaam, anaa oru nirabaraathi thandikka pada koodaathu” meaning “Hundreds of criminals can escape but there should not be a wrongful conviction of an innocent”. That has been washed off its meaning by the clichéd and million utterances in every film. It applies truthfully to this film.

While seeing the brutal sexual offenses and the horrible murders being committed by some one claiming to be human, we want to believe the death penalty so strongly. But how irreversible it is and how dangerous it would be. And more than that what is the difference we set ourselves from the monsters who commit those despicable crimes. The rage and revenge as a victim and a normal life being clinched away from their hands does vacillate the choices. I could never imagine that pain but the death of another human would only be a tragedy in some form or other. And when it is a mistake, it has become a legal murder. “After Innocence” greatly objects the death penalty and in a more convincing way than any other. Think about the lives of these men being lost by a mistake and it would be gruesome and unforgiving.

Seeing these men trying to move forward their erased lives, it stresses the luxury we have and been taken for granted. Not that we need to live in fear but recognize the existence of the great things of simple nature as the source of tackling day to day problems. They are not compensated by any means for the price they paid and the government’s errors. Their records are not expunged and as one says in the film the paroled prisoners get more support from the government to regulate a life out of the prison. Every one has the right to be angry but all of them have found a way to shun it. They have seen the anger and other horrible things inside the bars and they just want peace. A hand to hold and the freedom to roam.

It is true that the system wrongfully convicts and also lets the guilty walk free. That is the system because end of day it is run by laws written by human and advocated by humans. The errors are part of it and corruptions lift up its head a lot too. And the ego of the people accepting that is something of rare phenomenon as we see when a prosecutor apologizes to Dennis Maher. The system needs to evolve to thoroughly exhaust all the possibilities not alone after the conviction but it should hold up against the test of time. Of course the human dynamics and resource would run amok on those but it is a matter of life and death. “After Innocence” offers hope for the hopeless and that is saying very less of the film.

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