September 26, 2005

Capturing the Friedmans

I had never heard about this story, but I am sure it must have been big news when I was a child. Capturing the Friedmans is a documentary that came out in the last few years about a child molestation case during the late 1980's against a father, Arnold, and son, Jesse, from a middle-class Jewish family living in Long Island. I think that this documentary has an even greater impact on someone who has never heard of the case, and so can enter it without any prejudices. But what I'm not sure of, is whether or not you can actually come away from this with any sort of real answers.

This documentary is probably the only one I've seen that doesn't have any sort of real conclusion. In the end, I don't have any idea of what is true, what was false, and what is just convenient interpretation. At times, it seems like a defensive work, while at other times, it feels like things have completely changed direction. It is also contains a great deal of candid video and audio detail taken by David Friedman over the course of the ordeal.

I think the only thing you can take from this documentary is that the entire Friedmans family really is just as normal, and more honest with themselves and others, than any other family. It is truly hard to paint any of them as monsters or indecent or mean or bad, despite the overwhelming indications towards "sexually deviant" acts by the father at some point in his life. Part of the reason it is hard to view Arnold or Jesse as bad people is because of all the candid material and the extremely conflicting views presented by people whose true knowledge of events is questionable. You can't really believe that anyone is telling the truth, including the lawyers, police, victimized children, or the Friedmans.

Posted by josuah at September 26, 2005 1:22 AM UTC+00:00

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