Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart

In an extraordinary and tragic American story, a small town murder becomes one of the highest profile cases of all time. From its historic role as the first televised trial to the many books and movies made about it, the film looks at the media’s enduring impact on the case.


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  • ★★★★½ review by willy on Letterboxd

    'i think that as a society we judge people based on their stories. and when someone has a compelling story and theyre great at telling it they get the benefit of the doubt and when someone has a story that doesnt quite fit together, as most stories dont in reality, and theyre not good at telling that story, they get the short end of the stick.'

    i had goosebumps twice over the way this wrapped. the concept was profoundly executed

  • ★★★½ review by loureviews on Letterboxd

    This is the case that inspired the film To Die For . It also became a trial by media through newspaper reports in advance of court, and through the trial itself being televised wall to wall.

    Pamela Smart was a 23 year old teacher who was married to husband Gregg but quickly went headlong into an affair with 15 year old Billy Smart. Soon Gregg was dead, Billy was arrested for murder and Pamela as accessory to murder.

    This documentary is interesting because it does seem to assume Pamela's innocence while presenting opposing evidence. We hear from families, police, and the defendant herself and see footage (deliberately grainy for effect?) from the trial.

    An in-depth discussion of a murder where the wife is still incarcerated and yet comes across as plausible. Lengthy and considered enough for the viewer to make up their own minds.

  • ★★★½ review by kylie <3 on Letterboxd

    so many whack people doing whack things 🙄

  • ★★★★ review by Reasonwasout on Letterboxd

    Well articulated and focused, this is an interesting way to cover a case as well covered as the Pamela Smart trial. It goes and does what Casting Jon Benet tried to do -- with the focus on the media coverage of the case as much as the case itself -- but succeeds where Casting Jon Benet ultimately felt like a tawdry trick.

  • ★★★½ review by Matt on Letterboxd

    Very interesting and flashy documentary about Pamela Smart and how sometimes media influences our own rational thinking. The movie definitely raises many questions with little answers but it is a great point of discussion with how the media affects our perception and judgement of individuals and reminded me of other high-profile cases where facebook friends just rant their opinion based on whatever they came across online without actual research.

    The movie does have one surprising, unexpected interview subject near the end that you think will provide revelatory information but we more surprisingly learn that his memories are just as clouded. A doc worth checking out.

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