• This film delves into the trial and subsequent
conviction of Randal Dale Adams who was
sentenced to death for the shooting of a police
• Before becoming a director Errol Morris was a
private detective and became interested in the
case. This previous detective experience can be
seen in his exploratory style of filmmaking.
• The film presents several sides to the case
exploring the testimony of several key witnesses
and questioning the results of the trial as a
• The film uses re-enactments that have been
reconstructed from witness statements as well
as interviews to expose inaccuracies within the
• The documentary draws attention to its
reconstructions and the construction of a
documentary as a whole, using the
reconstructions to express individual
interpretations of events.
Effects of the film
• This film and the questions it raised were
instrumental in achieving Adam’s release from
• Reconstructions similar to those used in The Thin
Blue Line became common place in documentaries
paving the way for films such as Touching the Void.
• The director of Touching the Void, Kevin Macdonald,
▫ “When it was released, Errol Morris's The Thin Blue
Line went radically against the grain of documentary
convention. The film made something artful out of a
horrific real-life event – it changed the trajectory of my
• Overall the film was received well, however
Morris states that he lost money on the
• One reviewer stated:
▫ The Thin Blue Line proves more profound than a
more self-consciously political film might have.
This non-fiction film reveals injustice, but doesn’t
seem too surprised by it. It reveals eccentricities
and treats them as normal. The profundity comes
from Morris’ ability to reveal each character and
leave us with a deeper understanding of the
complexities of being human.
• Pick a scene from the following list:
• How does this scene show features of a reflexive
• What techniques does this scene use to influence the
• What theory can you apply to this scene?