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Law-Related Movies Documentaries


Movies - Home Page
"A to Z" List of Law-Related Movies
Movies Organized by Substantive Law Subject
Court Martial Movies
Courtroom Dramas

Inspirational Lawyer Movies
Prison-Related Movies
Top 10

56 Up (2012). Directed by Michael Apted. This documentary, which has followed the lives of a group of British students every 7 years, provides an update on the subjects, now at age 56. Three of the students who were part of the original group are lawyers who provide interesting insights on life and societal class. Read Roger Ebert's online review (4 out of 4 stars).

Big Boys Gone Bananas!
(2011). Directed by Fredrik Gertten. An excellent movie that documents the film-maker's battle with the Dole Company who filed suit to ban the launch of his earlier movie (Banana's!) on the plight of Nicaraguan workers who alleged that the company was using a banned pesticide on its crop that caused sterility.

Capturing the Friedmans (2003). Directed by Andrew Jarecki. A captivating documentary of a high school teacher, his wife and their three sons and their involvement in the criminal justice system when the father and youngest son are charged with sexual crimes involving children. The movie's tagline "Who do you believe?" is reflected in the questions raised by the director regarding the prosecution and defence of the accused. Read Roger Ebert's online review (3.5 out of 4 stars). Available here on Netflix.

The Central Park Five (2012). Directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon. This documentary tells the stories of five young black men who in 1989 were charged and convicted of a grisly rape in Central Park, New York, despite their claims of innocence based on what were alleged false confessions. Read Roger Ebert's online review (3.5 out of 4 stars).

Citizenfour (2014). Directed by Laura Poitras. This documentary, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2014, tells the story of Edward Snowden and his whistle-blowing of what he regarded as illegal or excessive wiretapping by the NSA. The movie raises issues of privacy, national security, whistle-blowing, and state immunity.

Finders Keepers (2015). Documentary directed by Bryan Carberry and Clay Tweel about John Wood and Shannon Whisnant. This documentary tells the bizarre story of John Wood attempting to recover his amputed leg that was inadvertenly purchased by Shannon Whisnant when he bought a BBQ in which the amputed leg was being stored. Although lawyers and the legal system do not play a dominant role, the movie does raise issues of property law and the maxim "finders keepers." The movie has a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Incident at Oglala (1992). A documentary narrated by Robert Redford and directed by Roger Apted. Tells the story of Leonard Pelletier who was, some say, wrongfully convicted of the murder of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. Read Roger Ebert's review (3 out of 4 stars).

Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996). A documentary by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky about the prosecution of 3 teenagers in Arkansas for the brutal murder of 3 young boys. The movie raises doubts about the guilt of the accused and the criminal justice system in general. Read the original New York Times review here

Paradise Lost 2: The Revelations (2001). A follow-up documentary to the 1996 film (immediately above) that follows the appeals of the three accused. Read Roger Ebert's 3 star review here.

Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (2011). Directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. The third and final documentary in this alleged wrongful conviction of the West Memphis Three that documents a more recent appeal based on new DNA evidence and other facts not previously available. Read Roger Ebert's online review (3.5 out of 4 stars).

Portrait of Wally (2012). Directed by Andrew Shea. This documentary tells the story of a painting (entitled "Portrait of Waly") by Austrian painter Egon Schiele that was stolen by Nazis during their occupation of Austria from its owner, Lea Bondi Jaray, a Jewish art gallery owner. The movie raises legal and moral issues surrounding art ownership as a court battle ensues between the Austrian art dealer who acquired the painting after the war and the heirs of its original owners. See a review of the film here from the Washington Post.

The Thin Blue Line (1988). Documentary, directed by Errol Morris. A gripping documentary of the tale of two men involved in the murder of a police officer in Texas where one of the men ends up on Death Row for the murder when, in retrospect, it appears he may have been railroaded for the crime. Read Roger Ebert's review (3.5 out of 4 stars). Available here on Netflix.

West of Memphis (2012). Directed by Amy Berg. Like the Paradise Lost documentaries discussed above, this film documents the ordeal of the West Memphis Three. Read Roger Ebert's online review (4 out of 4 stars).



Last updated: January 2016    |    Legal / Terms of Use    |    Ted Tjaden 2010-2016

  Cover of 4th edition of Legal Research and Writing
                (Irwin Law)

Legal Research and Writing:
4th Edition

by Ted Tjaden

Softcover 512 pgs.
Published: January 2016
Paperback: 978-1-55221-414-5
Ebook: 978-1-55221-415-2

Purchase here


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