Review of "OJ: Made in America (DVD)"

published 30/05/2017 | thedevilinme
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"Fascinating, enthralling, powerful and unmissable"

Th face of racial America

Th face of racial America

Star – OJ Simpson
Genre – Documentary
Run Time – 5 X 90 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – USA
Oscars – Won 1
Awards – 43 Wins & 28 Nominations
Amazon – £10 DVD £14.70 Blue Ray
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Quote

OJ Simpson “…I went to an inner-city high school. Our football team was terrible, but our fighters were good. We might lose the fourth quarter in the ballgame, but we'd win the fifth quarter after the game, the fight. It's called "the fifth quarter."

(O.J Simpson to Varity Magazine in 1990)

I was in Los Angeles at the time of the OJ Simpson murders and remember it unfolding on the TV in our Santa Monica backpackers, the Bronco chase happening around the start of the 1994 USA World Cup. I didn’t really know who he was other than he played American football back in the day and clearly a huge icon in America for both delirious black and white people to line the freeways cheering for the alleged double murderer as he held a gun to his head. As the days passed after he handed himself in it become clear he was at the crime scene on the night of the murders and the blood of OJ, his ex wife Nicole Brown and her alleged lover Ron Goldman all smeared on a glove found at the scene. No on else was in custody and so he quickly became number one suspect and so arrested for double murder.

The trail was set for November 1994 and would last nearly a year, taking three whole months just to get a jury in place as everyone knew the OJ story and so had some sort of prejudice, prejudice being the decisive factor in the case when it finally ended. There have been many documentaries, films and dramas about the OJ story but this is by far the definitive product, a must see and lengthy dissection of what really is America’s story, that of fame, wealth, race and that prejudice.

With a running time of 7 hours and 47 minutes, "O.J.: Made In America" became the longest film ever to be nominated for an Academy Award since, you guessed it, War and Peace (1966), and by a good 31 minutes. A few months after its Oscar win as Best Documentary, the Academy specifically outlawed "multi-part or limited series" to be included as nominees for the category in the future.

Cast

OJ and a whole lot of people………….

The Discs

Who is OJ?

So disc one of many is very much the early years of OJ, from grinding poverty in the projects of San Francisco to be the running back football star of the University of California. This is where his fame grew, college team’s playing in front of 50,000 students or more there, the workshop for lucrative NFL contracts. ‘The Juice’ was most know then for an amazing 70 yard run, simply known as ‘The Run’ today as he weaved and powered his way through the whole opposition team like Lionel Messi meets JPR Williams, archive footage a plenty capturing many more of those grainy moments.

The firsts surprise fact revealed here in disc one was his father was actually gay and a well known drag queen act. Dad would die of AIDS in 1986 and only came out when he learned of his infection. OJ never spoke of it publicly as a big taboo in the black community. It’s also interesting to know that OJ briefly held the 4x400m word track record whilst on the athletics team at USC.

The Buffalo Bills would win him in the draft and very different place to racially diverse and reasonably tolerant California. It was cold in Buffalo and worse still the coach didn’t play a running game and so Simpson did not impress for 18 months until, that is, the coach got fired and the new guy did like the running game. OJ exploded into games as records fell. There was nothing quite like OJ running with the ball. Nobody had seen anything like it. He would eventually smash the seasons running record and complete 2000 yards in a regular season. These were impossible numbers.

Celebrity

Disc Two looks at his celebrity lifestyle and how his fame seems to transcend his race in the 1970s and 1980s America. Everybody loved the Juice, even when he cheated on his black wife with a white college girl named Nicole Brown, who he would eventually marry, of course. This is where the DVD starts to move through the gears as the race element takes over and OJ becomes a rather unique figure loved by all.

Murder

Disc three and the event. We know a lot of this stuff and really enjoyed the recent TV drama on BBC2 but we get to meet the real lawyers, OJ’s loyal friends and the angry families of the deceased to flesh it out some more. We also talk to the jury members (who wanted to talk) some 20 years on. Jury selection is big thing for trail lawyers there and it ended up, as expected, disproportionately ethnic. Both sides also accepted a disproportionate number of female jurors. From an original jury pool 40% were white, 28% black, 17% Hispanic, and 15% Asian, the final jury for the trial had 10 women and two men, of which there were nine blacks, two whites, and one Hispanic. At the start of trial, 12 jurors and 12 alternates were selected from a pool of 250 potential jurors. Over the course of the trial 10 were dismissed for a wide variety of reasons. Only four of the original jurors remained on the final panel to deliver the verdict. The prosecution felt women of any color would jail a man who bats women. How wrong they were.

During the middle of the trial a number of the jurors staged a "revolt.", after being sequestered for 101 days and not allowed to leave the hotel or watch TV in that time, 13 of the 18 jurors refused to enter the courtroom until they were granted a meeting with the infamous Judge Ito. Eventually, the jury returned with 13 members wearing black or dark-colored clothing in what was described as a "funeral procession’.

Court

Disc 4 is the trial and fascinating some more as stat prosecutor Martha Clark recaps the reasons for her tactics and w s real footage of her implementing it in court. They were going up against black showbiz civil rights lawyer Johnny Cochran and had to be ready for the race card to be played. Clark chose a black lawyer on her team to be her number two to address the black jury. The evidence was solid OJ did it and everyone knew it. But the Rodney King riots were not yet out of black Americas system and however guilty OJ was the black jury may have other ideas. OJ denied the bloody shoe prints from the crime scene came from his extremely rare shoes, a shoe brand he denied he ever owned, shoes clearly shown on his feet at various previous film premiers.
Furman

If the trial had played out on the evidence then most experts, black and white, thought OJ would have gone down. But tapes of crime scene detective Mark Furman changed all that. He was secretly taped saying the N word and had made previous racist statements and that was somehow admissible in court. From that point on he was labeled a racist cop who may have planted evidence. Ethnic L.A knew all about racist cops and that meant the black jury could nail him on behalf of all of Americas racist cops by and yet another reason to free OJ. Furman’s life was destroyed after that and surprising he wanted to contribute to this film. The prosecution also fumbled the ball when thy asked OJ to try on the glove, which OJ made sure didn’t fit in court.

Victory

None of us will forget the look on OJ’s lawyer’s faces when they got him off. No one could believe it. The lawyer with the most bemused expression of all was defense council Robert Kardashain, who spawned those children, children who enjoyed her father’s fame thereafter and became the most famous and vacuous family in the world.

The trial had gripped America, and the world, and black jubilation across the county was widespread on his release, very offensive to some whites, and very hurtful to the Goldman’s. The news footage of African Americans cheering and whites crying put a huge red line across the American society. 75% of white’s thought he was guilty. 75% of blacks thought he was innocent. The deputy sheriff who had taken jurors to where they were released said all across the parking lot there were high fives and cheers and smiles and I heard it over and over "that was payback for Rodney King”.

Revenge

OJ was free and all those involved in that trial and verdict gave their thoughts on the verdict two decades on in the film. The Goldman’s were incandescent with rage and launched a civil action, which they won, of course. The judge award $33 million dollars damages from the OJ Estate. But the Goldman’s wanted to destroy him and made sure they cleaned him out, including his most treasured sporting personal possessions. All those owed money took goods to the value, including his Heisman Trophy. They wanted his very soul.
Confession?

OJ played on his ambiguous guilt and started to cash in on it. He got involved in a book called ‘If I Did It’, which cruelly explained how he would have killed them if he had done it. It was another blow to the Goldman’s. During the civil trial Close friend Ron Shipp said that OJ all but confessed to killing his ex wife and lover one time the friends were alone together.

“….I tried to leave there and OJ goes Shipp, hold on, they asked me to take a lie detector test, I told them "no." I said what'd you mean you told them "no"? and he says jokingly truthfully, I've had dreams of killing her and I said I'm out of here’.

Robbery

OJ had fallen hard and no longer welcome in rich white Hollywood but a double murderer living freely there all the same as if nothing had happened, playing golf, going to the beach and still chasing girls, all too much. The white protests began. He was now talking like a black man and the street had returned to OJ and embraced by the black community once again. But the biggest twist was yet to come as he so desperately wanted those sporting possessions back and got up a posse when he heard some of them were for sale in Vegas by memorabilia trader Mike Gilbert. But it wasn’t the treasured stuff but OJ still wasn’t paying and wanted the stuff back anyway and it soon became a matter of principal, and then an armed robbery and kidnap as one of his boys had bought a gun and people were locked in the bathroom of a hotel room. OJ and company were arrested and the white judge and jury were ready for revenge. He got 33 years in total, somewhat symbolically one year for every million of that compensation and sentenced 13-years to the day he got off for double murder.
Quote

Marcia Clark – ‘Are you kidding me? Seriously, are you kidding me? He walked away from a double murder?? I could not believe it”.


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===Results===

The context explained and the depth achieved over the doc's five discs is extraordinary,
particularly in the first and the final installments. I was gripped by this as much as America was the trial from the opening credits to the final arrest with OJ reassuring still in prison today when I finished it. Those 8 hours are extremely enthralling. There is not on ounce of fat here either.

We learn a lot of new stuff about the man - his life and the crimes, and the sycophants and friends around him. OJ the man is as fascinating as the Oscar winning documentary and a man who clearly feels money and fame scrubs out your skin color in America. His rich and famous white friend’s didn’t see him as black and OJ didn’t see him as any particular race just OJ race. Deep down every black person of note wants to be accepted by all colors and judged by their talent and personality, not skin color. Lots of black male sports people and celebrities will marry white girls as they somehow feel it makes them more accepted in the crazy privileged world of celebrity. The whit girls marry for money and they marry for racial status. Once Nicole divorced him for his violent rages and stopped dating black guys the resentment was there. It wasn’t just a spur of the moment attack because he saw her with a young white guy it was premeditated and brutal, graphic accounts of the attack not pleasant. Women are nearly always murdered by men they eventually reject.

One of the emotions I got from this I was not expecting was sympathy for the black community. It was never about whether he did it or not but how people feel when they suffer an injustice. White America felt injustice that he got off but black America was not getting injustice every day of the week since a very long time. The Black celebration of the not guilty vote was very much…now you know how we feel! It was extremely empowering for them. Rodney King was a crack head loser who deserved a beating but many innocent black Americans were getting those beatings off camera to.

So summing up this is a must see piece of television. It’s the type of TV you just don’t reach to turn off the remote and have a rest from it as you are totally engrossed in. I can see why OJ was who he was after watching this. He was athletic, handsome, and brilliant at his sport and a likable guy. Why would he throw it all away? I guess Nicole didn’t get the deal.
If you can’t get past the black community defending him after these brutal murders then this will go some why to resolve that. As I said. Some say this trail played out what modern America is really about in that money, fame and race are the only things that matter in America. Donald Trump is the turd resulting from that.

RATINGS


Imdb.com – 9.0/10.0 (9,964votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 100% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 96% critic’s approval

Critics

Entertainment Weekly –‘Extraordinary on so many levels, O.J.: Made In America transcends its stated subjects and themes. It's a withering critique of self-creation, culture making, and idolatry that speaks to everyone, regardless of race’.

CNN.COM –‘O.J.: Made in America feels like a master class on the nexus of race, sports, media and politics’.

The Verge –‘Edelman has crafted a structure that always seems to answer the viewer's next question without allowing the complicated themes or various narrative threads to become overwhelming’.

Cambridge Day –‘In its whole, it's a biting chronicle of the African-American condition over the past six decades’.

Sight & Sound –‘O.J.: Made in America will surely prove the definitive record of one exceptional African-American's spectacular rise and fall, a graphic illustration of how race, injustice and the pursuit of celebrity collided at the tail-end of the 20th century’.

The Mail –‘An aesthetic and comprehensive 7 1/2-hour documentary on an American hero turned bad’.
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Comments on this review

  • mousy86 published 03/06/2017
    Fab review x
  • Candyperfumegirl published 02/06/2017
    I was enthralled in the recent TV series so I must give this a watch, thanks
  • euphie published 01/06/2017
    e :o)
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Product Information : OJ: Made in America (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

Sub Genre: General

Sub Sub Genre: General

Director(s): Ezra Edelman

EAN: 5050968002719

DVD Region: DVD

Production Year: 2015

Classification: 18 years and over

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Listed on Ciao since: 18/05/2017