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The Thin Blue Line

Sunday, Feb 19 at 12:45 pm

Location: Redstone Theater

Dir. Errol Morris. 1988, 106 mins. 35mm print courtesy of Yale Film Archive. A landmark film in multiple respects, The Thin Blue Line saw Errol Morris cinematically investigating the case of a death row prisoner who may have been wrongly convicted of a police officer’s murderer. In addition to his trademark dead-on, center-frame, extended-take interrogations with a spectrum of subjects relevant to the case, Morris utilizes highly stylized, noirish reenactments to not only dramatize their testimony but also implicitly cast doubt on their veracity. The film remains a touchstone for both nonfiction reenactments and true crime documentaries—especially those for which the case hasn’t been fully closed, as Morris succeeded in reopening this case based on his findings. Yet when it comes to the intentionality and provocation of form and style, The Thin Blue Line has few worthy heirs, which makes its rejection by the Academy even more glaring than it was at the time, when champions like Siskel and Ebert were scandalized—as they and others would remain for nearly two more decades as the likes of Roger & Me, Crumb, and American Movie were similarly ignored. Morris finally got some respect, and belated credit for his innovations, from the Academy in 2004, winning an Oscar for The Fog of War. 

Tickets: $15 / $11 senior and students / $9 youth (ages 3–17) / discounted for MoMI members ($7–$11). Order tickets. Please pick up tickets at the Museum’s admissions desk upon arrival. All seating is general admission. Review safety protocols before your visit.