A chronicle of the rise and fall of O.J. Simpson, whose high-profile murder trial exposed the extent of American racial tensions, revealing a fractured and divided nation.A chronicle of the rise and fall of O.J. Simpson, whose high-profile murder trial exposed the extent of American racial tensions, revealing a fractured and divided nation.A chronicle of the rise and fall of O.J. Simpson, whose high-profile murder trial exposed the extent of American racial tensions, revealing a fractured and divided nation.
This naturally made me very cautious to watch OJ: Made In America, despite how critically acclaimed it was. While it was released in a very limited theatrical release- and won an Oscar for Best Documentary before the Academy changed their rules to disqualify lengthy works broken into parts- it did look to me like it would be another true crime miniseries that would draw itself out longer than necessary. Furthermore, I was worried it would be tacky and disrespectful the way many documentary miniseries are; if you're teasing and using real life tragic events as cliffhangers or hooks for viewers, for example, I think that's pretty twisted.
Thankfully, OJ: Made In America managed to transcend all of its similar contemporaries. This is miles better than something like Making A Murderer or any other show trying to chase its success; it goes in depth and uses its incredibly long runtime to tell a huge story and cover many, many topics in gripping and compelling detail. It's much more than a story about the double murder that OJ Simpson was accused of committing, and it's even more than just a documentary about OJ Simpson. The hint's in the title: it uses the story of Simpson to tell a huge, almost epic story about crime, race relations, and societal conflict throughout the last few decades of history.
It's hard to unpack everything, but you will find something interesting and intensely thought provoking within this documentary. It's not so much about trying to prove whether Simpson committed the crime or not, and moreso just giving as many points of view, opinions, and insights as possible. It's superbly edited, and flows in a way where despite all the information, you never get lost or confused. And furthermore, despite the risk of information overload, you never really get bored either. Despite watching this in chunks, I could have happily digested the entire seven and a half hours in one sitting, and if I ever rewatch it one day maybe I will view it in that way.
It's hard to come up with too many flaws. I'm conflicted over the use of graphic crime scene and autopsy photos in Part 4 of the documentary- some viewers may not understand the intensity and viciousness of the murder with verbal descriptions alone, but I feel like some people are appropriately disturbed with just picturing the aftermath in their head, and for those people, seeing the images themselves may feel like overkill. As such, I understand why those photos were included, but personally don't feel like I needed to be exposed to them. And I mean, could it have been six and a half hours instead of seven and a half? It's almost silly to think about that as a flaw, so I'm not sure it is, but at the same time... maybe it could've got more or less the same thing across?
I guess I'm struggling to think of flaws, or justify why I got this to 9/10 but not 10/10. On a rewatch, I may realise that this is about as good as documentaries can get, and raise the rating. For now, I can say that it's truly excellent and among the best documentaries I've ever seen, regardless of whether you choose to watch it as a miniseries or an extremely long feature.
Regardless of your thoughts on OJ Simpson and the infamous court case he was involved in, you will find things to appreciate, fixate on, and ponder throughout this incredibly impressive and borderline 'epic' documentary.
- Jul 17, 2020