Investigate the Kercher killing rather than cash in with a tawdry movie
HIGH drama surrounded the acquittal of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito this week as they walked free from court in Perugia, Italy, cleared of the murder of Leeds University student Meredith Kercher.
Now, comes the unsavoury battle to sign up Knox and her ex-boyfriend to tell their story. And what a story. Four years’ incarceration for a crime they did not commit. Their characters damned by evidence and prosecution comments about “satanic” Knox being a “sex-loving she-devil”. There is already talk of Knox giving her first TV interview about her “ordeal”. A book and film are planned. The overwhelming PR machine will elevate Knox to celebratory status. But will global audiences react to Miss Knox in the same way as they approached Jaycee Lee Dugard, the 11-year-old snatched from a bus stop and abused for more than 20 years by neighbours? Judging by the cries of “shame!” as the decision to acquit was announced, I suspect not.
Amanda Knox has been fortunate. Her character, far from being assassinated, has been steadily rehabilitated. In court she gave a passionate, emotional speech declaring her innocence of Meredith’s brutal murder.
In many ways the Knox story echoes others that have been turned into gripping motion pictures. Think of Yield to the Night, 10 Rillington Place, Dance with a Stranger and Let Him Have It. All focused on (British) justice and the ramifications of sending someone to the gallows. In the case of two individuals – Timothy Evans and Derek Bentley – it was rough justice; it was, in fact, no justice at all.
The sequel to this dreadful tale will never be made. The real story, of course, should concentrate on the forgotten victim: 21-year-old Meredith Kercher. What of her? What of the diligent student whose throat was slashed and who died horribly in her student digs? Well, the harsh truth is that murder stories are two-a-penny. And no-one will pay to see the tale of anguished parents struggling to re-open a cold case.
The Knox case is prime movie fodder. Someone, somewhere, is already plotting to turn courtroom intrigue into box office gold. And with the central protagonist possessing movie star good looks, the race will be on to secure the next Bright Young Thing to play her.
Some stories should remain taboo. Any producer with a shred of conscience will look at the Kercher family, acknowledge their grief and avoid this project. This is not a subject for cheap, low-brow entertainment. But, of course, conscience matters not in the world of the fast buck.
The acquittal of Knox and Sollecito means the truth of the matter is still out there. Perhaps if someone poured millions into a new investigation rather than a tawdry cash-in movie, she and her family might find closure.