Sounds worth seeing: O.J.: Made in America
In the Washington Post Eric Hynes talks with the guy who made the documentary:
“Dude, I have no answers.”
It could be construed as a dodge, but coming from Ezra Edelman it’s more like a declaration of purpose.
Not only did the D.C.-raised filmmaker have the audacity to make a 7½ -hour documentary about one of the most warmed-over subjects in recent American history, but he has also won a parade of critical acclaim. New York Magazine called it a “masterpiece,” while Hank Stuever’s review in The Washington Post called it “nothing short of a towering achievement.” And that’s without peddling any flashy new revelations. “That’s not what I’m interested in,” he said over tacos near his home in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn. “I’m doing something a little different.”
What Edelman does instead with “O.J.: Made in America,” a heady, five-part, half-century-spanning epic that debuts Saturday on ABC before shifting to ESPN, is posit the story of O.J Simpson as a Rorschach test for the American psyche. Hero or villain, creator or creation, denier or exemplar of his race, how we view O.J. says as much about ourselves as it does the enigma currently languishing in a Nevada prison. Unlike the recent FX miniseries “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” which tightly focused on Simpson’s murder trial, Edelman’s documentary starts three decades earlier, when the charismatic, prodigiously talented running back began isolating himself from the expectations and concerns of his race.
As Edelman explained: “What I understood from the get-go was the juxtaposition between 1967 O.J. — a black kid two years removed from growing up in public housing in San Francisco — arriving at this lily-white conservative place with a lot of wealthy students [the University of Southern California], which is literally next door to this other place that, a year and a half before, burned because of the dynamics between the police and black citizens in L.A. And from there O.J. pursues a path that completely ignores the plight of said people — until that gets completely turned on its head when we get to the trial. And you’re like, that’s the story.” . . .