Of Dolls And Murder
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While the film jumps around a bit, studying everything from the popularity of the CSI franchise to a local body farm, the main focus is on Frances Glessner Lee. Lee was frustrated about her home life, a strict father kept her from continuing her education like her brother. Her Brother, George Burgess Magrath, would occassionaly visit home and share stories of crime and the criminals who were literally getting away with murder. These stories would eventually inspire Lee to create a series of intricate dollhouses depicting various crime scenes.
While it might seem juvenile to some, these detailed doll houses helped mold the science of forensics into what it is today.
As mentioned earlier, the film has a few subjects all related to the study of the crime scene. There are various interviews with experts in the field, from seasoned detectives to the creators of television shows. We get a behind the scenes look at everything, no stone is left unturned. As a fan of not just documentaries, but also true crime, I was intrigued from beginning to end. My one and only complaint is that it wasn't long enough!
Do yourself a favor and check this one out!
From there, the documentary takes a negative turn and wastes the closing 45-50 minutes describing modern forensics/crime scene investigation. This would have been effective if the filmmaker hadn't abandoned Waters' narration (his narration literally lasts for 7-10 minutes) and further discussion of Lee and her work. Instead, the viewer is forced to sit through the banter of producers/writers for TV dramas like CSI talk about modern forensics. What do they know about modern forensics, save for the kind that are portrayed on TV in melodramatic fashion?
The film started out strong and completely died before it was given an honest chance of becoming something bigger. Hopefully someone will create a longer, more fleshed out telling of Lee's life, her complex works, and her undeniable influence on forensic investigation.
The documentary centers on the so-called "Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death," made by the late Frances Glessner Lee, the first female member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. These "nutshells" are miniature doll-house-like scenarios of famous murders of the time. They are quite detailed and, if observed carefully, can give you clues about the murders and how to solve them. Each one is built by one inch to one foot in scale. In fact, part of the film takes place at the State of Maryland's Forensic Medicine Center, where we meet Dave Fowler (Chief Medical Examiner) teaching detectives about forensic science. Also in hand was Jerry Dziecichowicz, who teaches about the nutshell models to detectives. Some of the models mentioned and detailed in the program are: the Three Room Dwelling (1937), Dark Bathroom (1896), Kitchen (1944), Blue Bedroom (1943), Parsonage Parlor (19460, Attic (1946), and more. In total, Glessner made 20 nutshell models, of which 18 are in Maryland, one is missing, and one was destroyed.Read more ›
of the film, while the dioramas share second chair with another subject that would be fascinating in its own right: the Body Farm.
The actual scenes and treatment of the dioramas are interesting and entertaining, including Jon Waters' narration, but each scene is dropped as soon as it is introduced. Talking heads interrupt with more of the numbingly obvious, that has nothing to do with the miniature scene just viewed. It ruins the chance to explore this fascinating scientist and her historic pieces, and makes for a frustrating viewing experience.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The video is OK in that is covers many of the highlights regarding the Nutshell displays but as a docent for the family home in Chicago, I can say with certainty that some of the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by EmmonChicago
I wish there was more too it. It was intesting, but didn't go much past what I learned in "Things you missed in History class."Published 6 months ago by S. Pirtle
I don't quite recall where I first came across this movie--perhaps on Netflix. I was thrilled to learn a couple of months ago that my best friend had once seen it and loved it. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Chauceriangirl
I am left really puzzled but mostly intrigued by this DVD. Mostly because of the fact that I like the depictions of the way the dolls are laying in the same spots as were found at... Read morePublished on September 5, 2013 by rwilburn