Errol Morris Apologizes for What 'The Thin Blue Line' Did to Documentaries
"You solve a murder mystery and then people think that's all documentary should do"
Published Nov 30, 2020Long before it was a right-wing slogan reserved for truck decals and even before it was a short-lived Rowan Atkinson sitcom, the phrase "the thin blue line" was used as the title for Errol Morris' fantastic true-crime documentary The Thin Blue Line. A lot has changed since 1988, however, and the doc has since spawned numerous uninspired — and super viral — copycats. And Morris says he's sorry.
Morris' film successfully argued that Randall Dale Adams, a man on death row, had been wrongfully convicted of murder. The documentary's release resulted in Adams' freedom.
If it sounds like a familiar tale, that's because just about every true crime doc — from Making a Murderer to Tiger King to even the American Vandal mockumentary — since has attempted to dismantle legal cases, overturn murder convictions or solve mysteries beyond simple reporting.
It's at the point where they're starting to feel a little stock, as Morris sums up in his tweet on the subject:
I'm sorry for "The Thin Blue Line." You solve a murder mystery and then people think that's all documentary should do.— errolmorris (@errolmorris) November 30, 2020
Of course, Morris is still active in the true crime genre. His book A Wilderness of Error has been adapted for television this year with the new series of the same name.