I am ashamed to admit that I neither knew nor cared to know anything about O.J. Simpson before now. Perhaps it is my nationality or my age that prevented me from taking an interest (I’m a Briton who was only five years old when the murder took place). I was aware there was apparently a fascinating story (I had heard something about a car chase and a glove) but as for the subject and the details themselves I was totally ignorant.
Ezra Edelman’s epic 7-hour documentary could not have been a greater entry point into the story for someone like me, recounting the O.J. Simpson story in exhaustive detail. ‘O.J.: Made In America’ builds a fascinating insight into the man himself, as well as his meteoric rise and devastating fall as his sports stardom is shattered by a murder allegation. However, it is also a powerful story of the times O.J. was living in. It explores the racial, social and political context that both surrounds and informs his story. In doing so, ‘O.J.: Made In America’ taps into themes that confirm why the story endures even twenty years on: it is one of racial divide, celebrity, media, scandal and the American dream turned American nightmare. It may, in fact, be the definitive American story of the 20th century.
Ezra Edelman’s approach as a storyteller is by no means novel; it is a conventional succession of talking heads narrative stock footage. However, ‘O.J.: Made In America’ is nevertheless structured and edited with remarkable clarity. Even at a 460-minute running time that is as long as most working days (one in which the film occasionally veers off into lengthy tangents to contextualise the story in what was happening in America at the time) the movie is endlessly compelling.
‘O.J.: Made In America’ is now available to stream on BT Sport.