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The Thin Blue Line

THE THIN BLUE LINE is the true story of the arrest and conviction of Randall Adams for the murder of Dallas policeman, Robert Wood, in 1976. The film is credited with overturning Adams’ conviction, a crime for which he was sentenced to death.

Director: Errol Morris
Year: 1988
Time: 97 min

 The Thin Blue Line
(1988) on IMDb

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Ways to Influence

Share the film. Give others an opportunity to learn about Randall Adams’ story and discuss these topics.

Speak out if you disagree with capital punishment – join an activist group calling for an end the death penalty or write to your local political representative expressing your opposition.

Check out the website of Amnesty International, an organization committed to preventing abuses of human rights. You might become an active member and participate in their actions which include letter-writing campaigns, email petitions and diverse online drives.

Give further consideration to any prejudices or discriminations the film revealed in you, and if there’s a change of mind or attitude you’d like to pursue.

Related Articles and Resources

The Nature of Truth

“Morris’s films are more interested in revealing the frequently flawed interior workings of his subjects than in revealing any kind of objective truths themselves.

“Morris has been called the ‘anti-postmodernism postmodernist’ because his films don’t guarantee that truths are contingent on or irretrievably lost in the past, but that it can sometimes boil down to human judgment, error, and bias covering them up.”

Read the Slant Magazine review.

Inside Oklahoma’s Botched Execution

“After he’d been declared unconscious, Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett twitched and gasped and said ‘something’s wrong,’ before dying of a heart attack. The disorderly execution reignited the debate on states’ ability to administer lethal injections that meet the U.S. constitutional laws.”

TIME Magazine has the story.

Randall Adams, 61, Dies; Freed with the Help of Film

“Randall Dale Adams, who spent 12 years in prison before his conviction in the murder of a Dallas police officer was thrown out largely on the basis of evidence uncovered by a filmmaker, died in obscurity in October in Washington Court House, Ohio. He was 61.” Adams died of a brain tumor in 2010. He lived a quiet life after his release.

Read more in the New York Times.

Fate or Free Will? The Choice is Yours.

“The question of free will is essentially a question of agency, of who is in charge as we go through our lives making all sorts of choices.

“Traditionally, it’s been a topic for philosophers and theologians. But recent work in neuroscience is forcing a reconsideration of free will, to the point of questioning our freedom to choose.”

A fascinating topic on NPR.

ERROL MORRIS | Interview

“I actually think of myself as an oddball activist,” said the filmmaker to The Believer.

True Detective

THIN BLUE LINE doesn’t have the structure of typical investigative journalism or detective fiction. “It’s form is circular, spiraling, its obsessive, repetitive visual motifs echoed in Philip Glass’s hauntingly monotonous score.”

Read The New Yorker’s remarkable review.

Six Reasons Why Support For Capital Punishment Is Evaporating

Visit the Miami Herald to learn why support for capital punishment is falling in the U.S.  The risk of erroneous conviction is seen as a contributing factor.

BBC on the mass death sentencing in Egypt

183 Muslim Brotherhood supporters are facing execution. Read more on BBC News.


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