Skip to main content









Donation Heart Ribbon

Review: "West of Memphis"

January 25, 2013 6:09 p.m.

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando reviews "West of Memphis"

Related Story: Review: 'West of Memphis'


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

ANCHOR INTRO: The case of the West Memphis 3 is the subject of the documentary "West of Memphis" opening today at Landmark's Hillcrest Cinemas. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando says sometimes a documentary is worth seeing even if it's not well made.

MEMPHIS 1 (ba)

The West Memphis 3 have been the subject of multiple films and books. The 1993 Arkansas case involves the murder of three 8-year old boys and the 3 teenagers accused of killing them. The teenage boys were convicted of the crime and became the focus of a movement called Free the West Memphis 3. "West of Memphis" is a new documentary that revisits the case. It mixes new interviews with archive footage.

CLIP Talk about what has been so impactful in this case that has changed your mind because that day you believed he was the killer... That day I believed what the state told me. And it took quite a while being blinded and when I finally got my answers none of the roads led to the three in prison. (:19)

The film looks to two horror stories: one being the murder of children and the other about innocent people wrongfully convicted. But we remain deeply frustrated by the final outcome. The State of Arkansas' refusal to even consider it might've made a mistake remains an offense to both the victims, whose real killer is still free, and to the innocent men who spent more than a decade in prison and have yet to be officially exonerated of their crimes.

Documentaries can sometimes be worthwhile and powerful even if when flawed. Such is the case with "West of Memphis." Director Amy Berg does some extraordinary research but doesn't know how to effectively assemble her information or provide the most compelling and enlightening narrative.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.