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How ‘Wormwood’ Subverts the Entire True-Crime Documentary Genre

"It is one of the most inventive, refreshing cinematic events you will likely see this year."

“One man’s 60-plus years of obsession to find the truth about his father’s death is the subject of the master documentarian Errol Morris’ latest magnum opus, Wormwood, a six-part Netflix series and/or 240-minute standalone movie,” writes Dustin Chang. “It is one of the most inventive, refreshing cinematic events you will likely see this year.

“It concerns Eric Olson and his lifelong quest for the truth about the death of his father, Frank Olson, a military scientist who died in mysterious circumstances some 60 years ago … Like many of Morris’ subjects, Eric Olson is a brilliant and obsessive man. He’s an extremely articulate man who might have had a promising career if it wasn’t for his tireless for the truth in his father’s murder. Morris’ interview with him, which takes up a large part of the series throughout, are compelling and absorbing, as he gesticulates wildly in split screen/multiple angle shots. He describes his investigation on the matter as collages and Morris visually makes the best out of these Olson’s descriptions.

“With wealth of home movie footage, documents, reenactments and series of interviews, Morris goes on like an investigative journalist with visual flair or a collage artist. Wormwood works like gangbusters as a ‘true crime’ doc and it’s thrilling to watch. Every little thread is meticulously investigated, each with the same weight and importance.”

“Shot by Igor Martinovic and Ellen Kuras, Wormwood looks and feels like a film noir. The period settings and somber mood are beautifully realized. The scripted narrative is mostly visual storytelling as it plays out like a silent film.” To read the full article, click here. ” 

American Head Trip: Joshua Oppenheimer Talks to Errol Morris About his Netflix Docudrama Hybrid Wormwood

“There’s this kind of nutty idea of documentary, fact, drama, fiction,” Morris tells Matt Zoller Seitz.  “First of all, there’s a completely different set of rules. There is no such thing as presenting ‘truth,’ whatever you think it is, in a movie theater. I have always bristled at the idea that style guarantees truth, that if I have a handheld camera, available light, and I don’t move anything on a set, that somehow that’s [acceptable], and somehow, all the rest is not. I think, no! Truth is a quest! It’s a pursuit

“Here’s my line, for what it’s worth: The best nonfiction asks us to examine the relationship between what we’re seeing on the screen and the real world. It makes us think about that. It doesn’t lull us into some kind of acquiescence or blind acceptance. It makes us think about how stories are constructed, how they’re put together. 

“Eric’s quest in Wormwood, my quest in Wormwood is to find out how and why his father died. If he was killed — and it seemed he was not only killed, but executed by the CIA — why was he killed? What are the details of it? Something happened in that room.” To read the full interview, click here.

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