OJ Simpson crime
Orenthal James "O.J." Simpson in 1990. Photo by Gerald Johnson, public domain license

True Crime Series: the rich and famous

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New media and the zeitgeist have given the true crime genre a spike in popularity. In our new series, we dive deep into a certain subset of the genre and explore some of its most binge-worthy and compelling storytelling. We begin here with cases involving the rich and famous. People who have the world at their feet and immense power over so many people. Two football players and two billionaire heirs – all four wrapped up in murder cases.


The Jinx

One of the most audacious of killers, Robert Durst, is the titular “Jinx.” His upbringing, alleged victims and ludicrous escapes from justice are the main focus of the eight-part series looking into his life. Growing up as the scion of one of New York’s biggest real estate tycoons, his vast wealth plays a major part in allowing Durst to commit the crimes he did and walk free for so long. Director Andrew Jarecki lands a major scoop in being able to interview Robert Durst personally, leading to many unexpected turns and unwilling admissions on Durst’s part.

The ending is arguably one of the most surprising and satisfying twists I have ever seen in the genre of true crime.

The Jinx is available on Sky or for purchase on the VoD platform of your choice.


O.J.: Made in America

A monumental achievement and one of the longest documentary films (clocking in at a whopping 467 minutes) to win an Oscar, O.J.: Made in America is more an examination of a time and mood in the United States as a whole than it is about the eponymous football player Orenthal James “O.J.” Simpson and his alleged murder of his ex-wife. The case shook and captivated the US public perhaps more than any other to this day, thanks in large part to O.J.’s ridiculous media-frenzied getaway and the subsequent sensationalized trial.

However, director Ezra Edelman is not content with counting the many ways in which this case was extraordinary. Instead, he details the national climate and the many socioeconomic and cultural factors that led to this trial becoming the most ubiquitous event of the 90’s.

Edelman connects the dots between the brutal assault by police on Rodney King, the 1992 LA riots that ensued when the officers were acquitted, and the fault lines among the public that these racial injustices created.

Made in America goes big, tracing the cultural moment with all its bifurcations to try to explain why this case and this trial so singularly represented the pulse of 1990’s United States.

O.J.: Made in America is available on GEO Television right now.


Team Foxcatcher

Back to the billionaires, Team Foxcatcher tackles the case of John Du Pont. A recluse heir of the ultra-wealthy Du Pont family, he had dedicated his life and money towards promoting and advancing the wrestling sport for the American public. His huge estate, the Foxcatcher Farm, was swiftly and generously transformed into America’s premiere training facility for professional wrestling. He hosted multiple wrestling pros and their families on the farm, and his investments started to show results.

Team Foxcatcher shows just how influential John Du Pont’s millions were in making American wrestling successful. However, the gratitude and appreciation of the wrestling community made them overlook clear signs of mental illness in the billionaire scion.

Du Pont’s erratic behavior worsened. He got more paranoid each day and the people most close to him had to endure his episodes. The most ardent of his defenders was also one of the most promising stars: Dave Schultz was among the best and brightest in the wrestling game. A hippie at heart and a generous family man in private, Dave elevated the sport and the Foxcatcher environment through his charisma. He was instrumental in creating a wrestling utopia on the Foxcatcher grounds and he did not want to see it wasted by his benefactor’s eccentricity. So he stayed despite several signs of a rapidly deteriorating situation and tried to help his friend John. But John started seeing an enemy in him, and his antagonizing behavior would escalate into murder.

Team Foxcatcher is streaming on Netflix.


Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez

Finally we turn to another football player, Aaron Hernandez, who quickly got a spot in arguably the most successful team in American football: The New England Patriots. His skill was undeniable and propelled him rapidly to one of the most lucrative and publicly revered positions in the most religiously beloved sport of his home country. Hernandez was looking at a multi-million dollar contract before he turned 21. His life was football and only football. Other facets of him had to be on the sidelines.

Perhaps this rapid, single-minded course is what led him to the dark decision he would make while simultaneously playing for millions of dollars and adoring fans. His uncertainty and struggle with his own sexuality as well as his addiction problems were downplayed, ignored or swept under the rug by his environment in order to keep his athletic gifts and performance intact and on track.

These underlying issues eventually boiled over into an irredeemable act perpetrated by a local hero with the world at his feet and his whole life ahead of him.

Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez is streaming on Netflix.


The next installment of our series brings you another riveting mix in the true crime genre. Scroll down to subscribe to our email alerts or follow us on Facebook / Twitter to be the first to find out when the story drops.

Heiner Uebbing originally hails from rural Lower Saxony and is based in Leipzig. His passion for film dates back to his teenage years, when he started attending film festivals, writing and corresponding about his experiences. You can probably spot him in one of Leipzig’s OmU/OV screenings in the front rows.

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