In­ves­ti­gate the Kercher killing rather than cash in with a tawdry movie

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - FILM - TONY EARN­SHAW

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.

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