The film which brought acclaimed documentary-maker Errol Morris to a wider audience - and upset purists in the process for its subjective reconstruction of actual events - is a typically intelligent and engrossing piece of film journalism.
It examines the case of Randall Adams, a drifter on death row for the 1976 murder of a Dallas policeman, allegedly committed while in cahoots with fellow outcast David Harris. Morris interviews all the principals involved in the case, including federal officers under pressure to deliver an assailant and some extremely unreliable witnesses, to present what may have been a major miscarriage of justice. The result is a dense though cogent re-examination of what may have really happened from a multitude of perspectives, which casts serious doubts on Adams' guilt and Harris' supposed innocence.
Bolstered by high production values, including Stefan Czapsky's luminous photography and an atmospheric score from Philip Glass, "The Thin Blue Line" is one of the most cinematic of documentaries. However, it never forgets for a moment its duty to anger, provoke, and probe, and as such is not only a piercing indictment of justice American-style, but one of the most exhilarating examples of the genre.