THE WEST MEMPHIS THREE TO BE FREED, THANKS IN PART TO THE SUPPORT OF… PETER JACKSON?!?
As has been widely reported elsewhere, it looks like The West Memphis Three — Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley Jr., and Jason Baldwin — may be about to catch a break: there’s rumored to be a plea deal in the works which could finally see the men freed as early as today.
Which is obviously great news! According to Deadline, documentary filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky* — whose two Paradise Lost films have been instrumental in both raising awareness of the case and making a strong argument for The Three’s innocence — are apparently present in Arkansas for the hearing today, hoping to be able to stick a new, triumphant ending onto Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, which will debut at the Toronto International Film Festival next month, and that would also be pretty amazing.
But here’s the story takes a weird/funny twist: Deadline also reports that Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh — the happily unmarried duo responsible for some little trilogy of indie movies called The Lord of the Rings (amongst other films) — apparently “‘played a leading role’ financially and legally behind seven years of efforts to get justice” for the trio:
“The filmmaking pair have funded key investigative efforts on behalf of the defense’s day-to-day efforts to prove the three men were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned… This has included financing extensive private investigators over a number of years and the uncovering of crucial new DNA evidence. Jackson and Walsh also have been instrumental in hiring some of the country’s leading forensic experts to reevaluate the case and uncover new witnesses, all of which contributed to the Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision to reopen the case.”
Of course, The West Memphis Three have had plenty of celebrity supporters before — but a) I’m not sure that any of those supporters contributed on such a massive scale, and b) those supporters are usually out in public, whereas Jackson and Walsh have been doing this for seven years behind closed doors — in other words, they had no intention of putting the spotlight on themselves. They were doing something good just because they could.
I gotta tell ya, I’m like the only person in the world who didn’t love The Lord of the Rings, and the movies Jackson and Walsh have made since — King Kong and The Lovely Bones — were varying levels of unwatchable. But right now, I kinda wanna fly to New Zealand and gives these folks a big hug.
If the hearing goes well and The West Memphis Three are indeed finally released today, we’ll let you know…
*Yep, same dudes who did the Metallica documentary, Some Kind of Monster.