Monday, October 21, 2013

Murder in the Heartland (1995)

One of the first or perhaps the first of the Oklahoma City bombing documentaries, it’s also probably the best. The reason it’s the best is that the questions the film raises are still haunting the event almost 20 years later, there are some things we still don’t know.

For those who don’t know the film looks into what exactly happened at the Arthur P Murrah Building in Oklahoma City when Timothy McVeigh set off a truck containing a fertilizer bomb in front of the government office building. McVeigh essentially did it alone, though he (may have) had some help from Terry Nichols who actually acted as a witness against McVeigh. There was according to the official story only one explosion.

MURDER IN THE HEARTLAND  looks at the story as told by government officials and then compares it to the story of witnesses who tell a different and more troubling story.

According to the witnesses in the film there was two explosions that brought the building down, there was only 1 ATF agent in in the building but right after the explosion the site was filled with them, and allegedly there were other suspicious people lurking around who better matched the descriptions of various John Does wanted for questioning. There are also problems with official statements and what was reported by the media on the scene.

I'm not sure how much I believe of the conspiracy story, but  unlike many other events thought to be the work of dark masterminds, this one actually has enough veracity to at least make you question the official story.

The strength of the film comes from a couple places.

First and foremost the film is told as if it was a TV news special report. Structured as a an investigation the film creates an air of mystery that carries the viewer from start to finish. We want to know the answers to the questions raised and so we become invested in what we are being told. Additionally the film neither gets histrionic in its telling or overly fanciful. What it reports is what it has information to back up.

The other thing working in the favor of the film is that even twenty years on we still don’t have the answers to most of the questions. Unlike say 911 or the London Bombings which collapse more and more as a more information is released (part of the questions arose in the case of London when the authorities refused to release pictures of the bombers in the subway system- questions that disappeared after the photos were released). This is an event that still has real unanswered questions and not ones based on misinterpretation or disregarding facts.

I'm genuinely impressed that the questions raised still hold up.

Where I can recommend many other conspiracy films for the shits and giggle factor, MURDER IN THE HEARTLAND is recommended because it makes you stop and ponder really what happened- especially now when enough time has past  that we can be dispassionate.

See this film.

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