Ken Burns has spent over 20 years documenting American history in bite-size chunks, homing in on one subject after another with keen alacrity. In all that time, though, Burns has touched on issues such as racism and poverty only at a decades-long remove. So to see the 59-year-old filmmaker's name associated with a documentary recounting one of the most horrendous miscarriages of justice in recent memory is frankly a little shocking. To Burns' credit, he rises to the challenge admirably. He and co-directors Sarah Burns (his daughter) and David McMahon throw into stark relief the fates of five young men coerced into confessing their guilt in the assault and rape of "The Central Park Jogger" in 1989. Through recent interviews with all five men, their families, lawyers and former New York City mayors Ed Koch and David Dinkins, the incident is given its full historical weight, with the rampant crime, police corruption and racial politics of the time playing key roles in this terrible incident. Even though their convictions were overturned 13 years later, the joy of that news was rightly tempered with a bittersweetness that reminds viewers of the part we all play in the threadbare social fabric of modern American society.
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- Release Date: Tuesday, December 11, 2012
- Critic's Score: A
- Watch the trailer