Capturing the Friedmans
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Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, and with over $3 million at the box office to date, Capturing The Friedmans is nothing short of the most riveting, provocative, and hotly debated films of the year. Despite their predilection for hamming it up in front of home-movie cameras, the Friedmans were a normal middle-class family living in the affluent New York suburb of Great Neck. One Thanksgiving, as the family gathers at home for a quiet holiday dinner, their front door explodes, splintered by a police battering ram. Officers rush into the house, accusing Arnold Friedman and his youngest son Jesse of hundreds of shocking crimes. The film follows their story from the public's perspective and through unique real footage of the family in crisis, shot inside the Friedman house. As the police investigate, and the community reacts, the fabric of the family begins to disintegrate, revealing provocative questions about truth, justice, family, and -ultimately-truth. With an abundance of exclusive DVD bonus features supplied on a second disc, Capturing the Friedmans is sure to capture you and pin you to your seat.]]>
Top Customer Reviews
The beauty of the film, expressed by Jarecki in both his commentary and in a Charlie Rose interview, is that it finally provides - albeit too late - the fair trial that the Friedmans should have been granted. Whatever the 'truth' of the story is, and we may never really know, the prejudice that was brought to bear on the case by the police, judiciary, the community and the media made it impossible for this most complicated family to be accorded their constitutional rights. We, the audience, are the jury now. Jarecki provides both prosecution and defence cases and we are left to decide the guilt.
Quite apart from the compelling material, which makes this film so much more thrilling than any Hollywood drama of recent memory, the film is beautifully shot. Jarecki exposes evidence carefully so that just when you feel that your mind is made up something is thrown in that broadsides you. Andrea Morricone's beautiful music is the perfect accompaniment to the anguish that the viewer feels throughout this painful quest for the 'truth'. The film's website (capturingthefriedmans.com)is a worthy partner to the film with some unheard audio footage, and is well worth visiting.
This is not quite an enjoyable film - the material too uncomfortable for that - but it is one that should be seen. Make sure you watch it with someone as all you will want to do afterwards is discuss it - and then you'll want to watch it again.
"Capturing the Friedmans" is a short synthesis of many hours of available documentation from multiple sources, reflecting snowballing events that occurred over months and years during the mid to late 1980s in Long Island, New York. In the shadow of the California "McMartin pre-school" alleged sexual abuse scandal, the somewhat unassuming and admired schoolteacher/musician Arnold Friedman was caught by postal examiners receiving and sending pedophilia pornography.
This aberration evolved during Arnie's childhood, was acted on to at least a limited degree twice in adulthood, and was a source of guilt and worry to him with respect to his own three sons. A subsequent zealous investigation resulted in Arnie and youngest son Jesse, 18, being accused of sexually abusing many young boys during home computer classes. Under conditions interpreted as nearly hopeless for the defense, both ultimately felt forced to plead guilty to hundreds of counts of abuse. Jesse was recently freed after serving 13 years of a 6-18 year sentence. After an insurance provision was satisfied wherein Jesse would be the beneficiary, Arnold committed suicide in 1995 during his 10-30 year prison term.Read more ›
The father, Arnie Friedman, was witness to his mother's inappropriate and self-serving sexual activity; unsurprisingly, he turns out to be a pedophile whose penchant for buying kiddie mags gets him investigaged for child rape. His wife, Elaine, who looks like the years with Arnie has sucked the life out of her, walks around in a fog, totally bewildered that a)she married such a creepy little freak and b)her three boys prefers dad to her. Oldest son Dave is in his own state of denial about his father's problems and blames it all on mom. The most sympathetic figure is youngest boy Jesse, who was imprisoned for 13 years for a most unsympathetic crime.
Did Arnie and Jesse rape those little boys? The interviewed accuser comes across as less than credible - he contradicts himself, can't remember the first episode of molestation (though remembers plenty else) and when asked to explain an important detail, hesitates as though he were thinking "what the heck do I say now?" The Feds appear to have been caught up in the same hysteria that got a bunch of innocent day care providers tossed in prison in the 1980s - they used interview techniques that were more like criminal interrogations and hypnosis (reknown for inducing false memories.) Way to manipulate and damage little kids, you dumb cops.
In any case, Arnie is a self-admitted pedophile and his taste for child porn victimizes his whole family, especially Jesse (possibly in more ways than one.) Despite this, his boys absolutely adore him. It's hard to understand why - on their home movies, dad comes across as an emotional dud, with a flat affect and a distant stare.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I made some comments on a non-related movie about how we Americans have imperfectly evolved from out primitive origins. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Mark C. Jones
Not impressed at all. This was on a list of docs to watch after Making A Murderer and it's no where near as good. Read morePublished 6 months ago by dowdalld
I am a retired Customs Agent and have been on many of these kinds of search warrants. What I haven't seen is the aftermath not having been the case agent on these kinds of cases. Read morePublished 14 months ago by whitefang