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Devil's Knot (film)

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Devil's Knot
Devil's Knot film poster (2013).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Atom Egoyan
Screenplay by
Based on Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three
by Mara Leveritt
Produced by
Starring
Cinematography Paul Sarossy
Edited by Susan Shipton
Music by Mychael Danna
Production
company
Distributed by
Release dates
  • September 8, 2013 (2013-09-08)(TIFF)
  • May 9, 2014 (2014-05-09)(theatrical, VOD)
Running time
114 minutes [4]
CountryUnited States [1]
LanguageEnglish
Box office$2 million [5]

Devil's Knot is a 2013 American biographical crime drama film directed by Atom Egoyan and adapted from Mara Leveritt's 2002 book of the same name. The film is about the true story of three murdered children and three teenagers, known as the West Memphis Three, who were convicted of killing the three children during the Satanic ritual abuse panic. The teenagers were subsequently sentenced to death (Echols) and life imprisonment (Baldwin and Misskelley), before all were released after eighteen years. [6]

Contents

The film was produced byProduced by Elizabeth Fowler, Richard Saperstein, Clark Peterson, Christopher Woodrow, and Paul Harris Boardman. The film stars Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon, Dane DeHaan, Mireille Enos, Bruce Greenwood, Elias Koteas, Stephen Moyer, Alessandro Nivola, Amy Ryan, and Martin Henderson.

The film premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on September 8. [7] [8] [9] It had a limited release in Canadian theaters on January 24, 2014, [10] and it was released in U.S. theaters and video on demand services on May 9, 2014. [11]

Plot

In 1993, in the working class, deeply religious community of West Memphis, Arkansas, three eight-year-old boys – Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore – go missing from their neighborhood. After an extensive search, their bound and beaten bodies are found the next day. The community and the police department are convinced that the murders are the work of a satanic cult, due to the violent and sexual natures of the crime. A month later, three teenagers – Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley Jr. – are arrested after Misskelley confesses to the murders following 12 hours of interrogation. They are taken to trial, where Baldwin and Misskelley are sentenced to life in prison, and Echols to death, all the while proclaiming their innocence.

In real life, August 2011, after nearly 20 years in prison, Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley were given a new trial and released after entering an Alford plea, under which they remain convicted felons; [12] the boy and his mother, who testified against the defendants recanted; Lax discovered a hair sample from the crime scene that resembled Terry Hobbs's DNA; [13] , the step-father of one of the victims, the wife of John Mark Byers was found dead under "unsolved" circumstances; [13] and Pam Hobbs continued to look for the truth about her son's murder.

Cast

True story

Production

Colin Firth was confirmed to have joined the cast on May 21, 2012. [14] More casting announcements were made on June 27, 2012. [15] The film was produced by Elizabeth Fowler, Richard Saperstein, Clark Peterson, Christopher Woodrow and Paul Harris Boardman, and the screenplay was written by Boardman and Scott Derrickson. [6] The first image from the set was revealed on June 26, 2012. [16]

Filming

Filming began on June 16, 2012 in Georgia, cities of Morrow and Atlanta. [6] The courthouse scenes were filmed at the Bartow County Courthouse in Cartersville. [17]

Release

The world premiere was held at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2013. [7] Image Entertainment purchased the distribution rights after its premiere. [2] The film was released in Canadian theaters (both English and French) on January 24, 2014. [18] [19]

Reception

Devil's Knot holds a 25% approval rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 100 reviews, with an average rating of 4.7/10. The general consensus states: "Devil's Knot covers fact-based ground that's already been well-traveled with multiple (and far more compelling) documentaries." [20] On Metacritic, the film has a 42/100 rating based on 24 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". [21]

See also

These four documentaries center on the West Memphis Three:

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">West Memphis Three</span> Three men convicted of the 1993 murders of three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, United States

The West Memphis Three are three men convicted as teenagers in 1994 of the 1993 murders of three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, United States. Damien Echols was sentenced to death, Jessie Misskelley Jr. to life imprisonment plus two 20-year sentences, and Jason Baldwin to life imprisonment. During the trial, the prosecution asserted that the juveniles killed the children as part of a Satanic ritual.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Reese Witherspoon</span> American actress (born 1976)

Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon is an American actress and producer. She is the recipient of various accolades, including an Academy Award, a Primetime Emmy Award, and two Golden Globe Awards. Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2006 and 2015, and Forbes listed her among the World's 100 Most Powerful Women in 2019 and 2021. In 2021, Forbes named her the world's highest earning actress, and in 2023, she was named one of the richest women in America with an estimated net worth of $440 million.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">West Memphis, Arkansas</span> City in Arkansas, United States

West Memphis is the largest city in Crittenden County, Arkansas, United States. The population was 26,245 at the 2010 census, ranking it as the state's 18th largest city, behind Bella Vista. It is part of the Memphis metropolitan area, and is located directly across the Mississippi River from Memphis, Tennessee.

<i>Paradise Lost 2: Revelations</i> 2000 American film

Paradise Lost 2: Revelations is a 2000 American documentary film directed and produced by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, and the sequel to their 1996 film Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, about the trials of the West Memphis Three, three teenage boys accused of the May 1993 murders and sexual mutilation of three prepubescent boys as a part of an alleged satanic ritual in West Memphis, Arkansas.

<i>Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills</i> 1996 American film

Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills is a 1996 American documentary film directed, produced and edited by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky about the trials of the West Memphis Three, three teenage youths accused of the May 1993 murders and sexual mutilation of three prepubescent boys as a part of an alleged satanic ritual in West Memphis, Arkansas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Atom Egoyan</span> Canadian filmmaker (born 1960)

Atom Egoyan is a Canadian filmmaker. He was part of a loosely affiliated group of filmmakers to emerge in the 1980s from Toronto known as the Toronto New Wave. Egoyan made his career breakthrough with Exotica (1994), a film set primarily in and around the fictional Exotica strip club. Egoyan's most critically acclaimed film is the drama The Sweet Hereafter (1997), for which he received two Academy Award nominations, and his biggest commercial success is the erotic thriller Chloe (2009). He is considered by local film critic Geoff Pevere to be one of the greatest filmmakers of his generation.

<i>Free the West Memphis 3</i> 2000 compilation album

Free the West Memphis 3 is a compilation album released in October 2000 by Koch Records as a benefit for the legal defense of the West Memphis Three, three men who, while teenagers in 1994, were tried and falsly convicted of the 1993 murders of three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. The album was organized by guitarist Danny Bland, Eddie Spaghetti of the Supersuckers, and Scott Parker, who served as executive producers of the project.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Joe Berlinger</span> American documentary filmmaker

Joseph Berlinger is an American documentary filmmaker and producer. Particularly focused on true crime documentaries, Berlinger's films and docu-series draw attention to social justice issues in the US and abroad in such films as Brother's Keeper, Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, Crude, Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger and Intent To Destroy: Death, Denial and Depiction.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Varner Unit</span>

The Varner Unit is a high-security state prison for men of the Arkansas Department of Correction in Varner, Choctaw Township, unincorporated Lincoln County, Arkansas, United States. It is located along U.S. Highway 65, near Grady, and 28 miles (45 km) south of Pine Bluff. The prison can house over 1,600 prisoners, and it includes a 468-bed supermax facility. The supermax and non-supermax facilities are separate from one another.

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<i>Devils Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three</i> 2002 true crime book by Mara Leveritt

Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three is a 2002 true crime book by Mara Leveritt, about the 1993 murders of three eight-year-old children and the subsequent trials of three teenagers charged with and convicted of the crimes. The names of the three teens convicted - Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley - would come to be known as the West Memphis Three. Leveritt's book revolves around the central idea that the three teenagers' convictions stemmed from "Satanic panic" rather than actual evidence. The book also focuses on one of the victim's stepfathers and his possible connection with the murders. All three teenagers convicted were released on August 19, 2011. A film based on the book, Devil's Knot, was released in 2013.

Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky were a team of American documentary filmmakers that have won cult fame and critical acclaim. The duo are probably best known for their trilogy of Paradise Lost films about the so-called West Memphis Three, and for their 2004 Metallica documentary Metallica: Some Kind of Monster. Though they often worked together, Berlinger and Sinofsky also separately directed their own projects.

David Burnett is an American Democratic politician and former member of the Arkansas Senate. Before he entered the Senate, Burnett had been a judge. Burnett is known as the trial judge of the controversial West Memphis Three trial during which he made several serious mistakes.

<i>Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory</i> 2011 American film

Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory is a 2011 American documentary film directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, and sequel to their films Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996) and Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (2000). The three films are about West Memphis Three, three teenage boys accused of the May 1993 murders and sexual mutilation of three prepubescent boys as a part of an alleged satanic ritual in West Memphis, Arkansas. Purgatory offers an update on the case of the West Memphis Three, who were all recognized guilty of the murders in 1994 but kept on claiming their innocence since then, before culminating with the trio's attempt at an Alford plea.

<i>West of Memphis</i> 2012 New Zealand-American documentary film

West of Memphis is a 2012 New Zealand-American documentary film about the West Memphis Three that was directed and co-written by Amy Berg, and produced by Berg, Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson, and Damien Echols and his wife, Lorri Davis. It was released in the US by Sony Pictures Classics to critical acclaim, and received a nomination for Best Documentary Screenplay from the Writers Guild of America.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Damien Echols</span> American writer; former member of the West Memphis Three

Damien Wayne Echols is an American writer, best known as one of the West Memphis Three, a group of teenagers convicted of a triple murder. Upon his release from death row in 2011 under an Alford plea, Echols authored several autobiographies and spiritual books. He has been featured in multiple books, documentaries, and podcasts about his spiritual works and the West Memphis Three case.

Mara Leveritt is an American investigative reporter focused on Arkansas. In 1991, she broke the story that plasma drawn from Arkansas prisoners was being sold on the international market with inadequate screening for diseases. The program ended in 1994 and the prison director was forced to resign. By then, more than 1000 Canadians were infected with HIV from plasma traced to Arkansas prisons and another 20,000 were infected with hepatitis C.

References

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  12. Rogers, Abby (December 22, 2012). "A Little-Known Legal Maneuver Let 3 Men Convicted Of Murder Get Out Of Jail While Still Admitting Guilt". Business Insider . New York City: Axel Springer SE . Retrieved September 6, 2018.
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  20. "Devil's Knot". Metacritic . Retrieved November 18, 2022.