Netflix’s “Amanda Knox”
Netflix’s true crime documentary, Amanda Knox, retrospectively follows the 8-year-long murder case of student Meredith Kercher through interviews with those involved. The documentary, which takes place in Perugia, Italy, is framed as a narrative, and each interviewee acts as an archetypal character: Knox and Sollecito, the young lovers, wrongfully accused; Giuliano Mignini, the arrogant speculator with too much power; and Nick Pisa, the sleazy journalist who will go to any length to create the biggest headlines.
Even from the beginning of the documentary, it is clear that the odds are stacked against Knox and Sollecito due to their reactions to the event. Instead of crying, they talk about having sex and use inappropriate language to express their feelings, and, while an uncommon reaction, grief appears differently in every person. Failing to understand this, Mignini develops an unfounded bias against the two of them as suspects in the case, framing them as sexual deviants, which continues to influence the direction of the investigation. He begins to speculate, creating rumors of the methods through which they “killed Kercher,” and of course, Pisa, followed by the rest of the media, latch on. What follows is a series of incriminating claims involving (contaminated) evidence against the two suspects, an interrogation in which the Italian police utilize physical assault to acquire the answers they want, and a long-term prison sentence for Knox and Sollecito until they are eventually acquitted not once, but twice within the next eight years, as a third suspect, Rudy Guede, is convicted of committing the crime.
While the story is intriguing, it unravels to raise questions of ethics in both media and investigation, as we see Mignini and Pisa’s desires for fame and money lead to real-world consequences. Because of the media’s framing of the situation, Knox and Sollecito have difficulty re-adjusting to their lives outside of prison, as the attention placed on their potential involvement in the murder causes them to be easily recognizable. The documentary ends by telling its viewers that Guede has been released and maintains his innocence, though he doesn’t experience the same kind of attention that Knox and Sollecito do, simply because the media does not find his story interesting enough.