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The Central Park Five


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Product Details

  • Actors: Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson
  • Directors: Ken Burns, Sarah Burns
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: April 23, 2013
  • Run Time: 119 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (267 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00AZMFG48
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,823 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Central Park Five" on IMDb

Special Features

Special Bonus Feature include...

Behind the Scenes
A New York Wilding
Making The Film - A more in-depth piece
The Family Business - How do you make a film with three directors who are all related?
Subpoena - NYC strikes back
And more...

This DVD features subtitles in English (SDH).

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This new film from award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns tells the story of the five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in New York City’s Central Park in 1989. The film chronicles the Central Park Jogger case, for the first time from the perspective of these five teenagers whose lives were upended by this miscarriage of justice. This DVD features subtitles in English (SDH).

Amazon.com

We know going in that the five young men featured in The Central Park Five were ultimately exonerated of the crime for which they were imprisoned--indeed, the documentary begins with the real perpetrator's confession. But that's cold comfort to them, along with anyone else outraged by the miscarriage of justice detailed in this powerful film by Ken Burns, his daughter Sarah, and her husband, David McMahon. In April 1989, Trisha Meili, a 28-year-old investment banker, was raped and savagely beaten while jogging in the park. The shocking crime came in a city already known, as one interviewee describes it, as "the capital of racial violence," and media, politicians, cops, ordinary citizens, and everyone else demanded that whoever was responsible be brought to justice immediately, if not sooner. And although there were dozens of other black and Latino youths "wilding" (i.e., threatening and/or attacking others) in the park that night, only teenagers Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise, all of whom were interviewed for this film, were ultimately arrested and convicted, based on confessions to the police who interrogated them. All five went to jail, serving between 6 and 13 years while the district attorney's office congratulated itself on a job well done. But the confessions, portions of which we see in file footage, were bogus. If not actually coerced, they were certainly the products of five scared, confused, suggestible youths willing to say almost anything simply so they could go home. What's more, the confessions were the DA's only evidence; indeed, the DNA evidence didn't implicate any of the boys, and they were exonerated when a serial rapist named Matias Reyes confessed to the crime in 2002. So what went wrong? Aside from the Five and their family members, reporters, lawyers (excluding the prosecutors), and former New York mayors Ed Koch and David Dinkins point to a number of reasons: the "social moat" that divided the haves and have-nots, public pressure, sensational headlines in all the papers, cops more interested in making their "evidence" fit their theory of the crime instead of the other way around… and, inevitably, racism. In classic Burns style, the filmmakers combine interviews, film, photos, and some very effective music to create a document of shame that packs a genuine wallop. --Sam Graham

Customer Reviews

Injustice, horrific crime, and innocence.
David J. Haven
This documentary was very detailed, very informative.
Stanley Cantave
I am not going to say anymore and ruin it!
Jill Gatsby

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Paul Allaer TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 21, 2013
Format: DVD
In late 2011, Sarah Burns published the "Central Park Five" book, and in late, 2012, the documentary based on this book, or perhaps more accurately stated, made in conjunction with this book, was released in the theatre (I saw it at the Landmark E Street Cinema in Washington DC about a month ago). This co-documentary is directed by the book's author as well as David McMahon and Ken Burns (yes, that Ken Burns).

"The Central Park Five" (120 min.) brings in excruciating (but riveting and enraging) details the background of the infamous "Central Park jogger" case of a woman who was savagely attacked, raped and left for dead while jogging in New York's Central Park in 1989. By coincidence that very same evening a bunch of black and latino 14 and 15 yr. old teenagers were hanging out in Central Park and pretty quickly the New York police rounded up a number of them, eventually causing 5 of them to admit to a crime they did not commit. This of course then goes to the very heart of this documentary: why did the 5 innocent teenagers confess to a crime they did not commit? Just watch!

Several comments: first and foremost, this documentary is clearly the result of painstaking background work into the details of the case. The initial part of the documentary does a great job setting the table of what New York was like in the late 80s (pre-law and order days of Rudolph Giuliani's administration in the 90s). The documentary also gives some amazing insights on why the media were not more thorough and critical while covering the case and the trial (one of the interviewees is a New York Times reporter who basically admits that 'we failed to do our job').
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64 of 87 people found the following review helpful By richard l grant III on February 7, 2013
Format: DVD
My initial reaction to reading the Turfseer review of this film was a belief, based on the errors and the distortion of facts in the review,that the reviewer saw a different film from the one I saw or was merely ignorant of the truth because he didn't understand the film.. A closer reading leads me to believe that something more serious, perhaps even sinister, is afoot here: a deliberate attempt to mislead those without direct unbiased knowledge of the events discussed in the film, and to advance the unsupported theories and suppositions of some of those directly involved in the original miscarriage of justice.

To wit: Turfseer writes ( I shall hereafter include Turfseer's accounts in quotes and my answers below them):

"the Central Park Five (CPF) were not only convicted of rape (in most cases) but also assaulting other people in the park that night. Burns and the CPF want you to believe that they merely observed two serious assaults in the park and acted 'shocked' by the brutality of the mob."

They were NOT convicted of assaulting specific "other people", because, as the prosecutor, Elizabeth Lederer, admitted in her own opening statement to the jury in the initial trials, none of the "other" people assaulted in the park could identify their assailants among the five accused teenagers (let Truthseekers as opposed to Turfseers consult the film and public records to back up the assertions I make here) and that the only witnesses against them were their proximity, i.e. being in the park at the same time, and their own confessions which they asserted had been coerced and tricked out of them, and which they had by the time of the trial repudiated.
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30 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Crowhurst on April 29, 2013
Format: DVD
There is clearly no question that a grave injustice took place in this case, and the film is (like all of Ken Burns' works) compelling watching. But the producers overplayed their hand here, and the result is a movie that on a close analysis -- just from its own content, without doing any external research about the case -- overstates the case to the point of misrepresenting what exactly happened.

There is a general principle in journalism that you make the strongest argument you can, and if somebody says something, the viewer/reader can infer that nothing stronger could have been said. An easy example is, "The Yankees have lost 13 of their last 15 games." When you read that, you know two things: they lost 13 of their last 15 games, and 16 games ago, they won. Otherwise, the story would have been that they lost 14 of their last 16 games.

This principle compels certain inferences that seriously undermine the overall message of the movie. In fairness, sort of, the producers often include the information that shows "the rest of the story", but generally it goes so fast that if you blink, you miss it.

First of all, there was no "Central Park Five". Initially it was something like the Central Park 30. Then when it came to seeking indictments it was something like the Central Park 12. Then when it came to actually going to trial, it was the Central Park Eight. Three were allowed to plead guilty to offences other than the attack on the jogger. This all comes at the endnotes to the movie, which all tend to contradict the entire premise of the movie: they picked these five innocent kids, and went all-out to convict them, regardless of the truth. Well, no.
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