“When They See Us” is a four-part series about police brutality and injustice inflicted on five teenage boys in 1989. The series is based on a true story, and it’s told from the perspective of the wrongfully incarcerated teenagers. During that time, the boys were referred to as “The Central Park 5.”
It’s a hard-to-watch series that is both brilliantly done and greatly needed. The storyline of the struggles and unfairness of this case evokes feelings of fear, sadness and anger. It displays the highly racist, violent and manipulative tactics conducted by police officials in an effort to coerce confessions from innocent black and hispanic teenage boys.
Film director, Ava Duvernay, used her creative skills to tell a story that needed to be told.
Duvernay used cool visual tones throughout the film that paired well with the emotional tone of the film. The restrictive and unconventional camera angles help convey the feeling of entrapment, intensity and danger, especially during the interrogation scenes.
The boys were accused of raping a white woman in the park, but when the timeline did not match up, the lead detective and fellow detective rearranged the boys story. The detectives proceeded to then physically attack the boys and forced them to retell the story the way they wanted them to.
The series not only shows the effects that this case had on the boys, but it also followed the heartache and pain of their families. It depicted the powerlessness felt by their parents when they could not protect their children.
The teenage boys spent years in prison, and they were later exonerated. There rights to life and liberty were taken. Today, there are still unfair disadvantages woven into the justice system.
Duvernay seeks to bring these issues into the forefront. This is not the first time she has shed light on injustice. In 2016, Duvernay released the Netflix documentary “The 13th,” which showed the systematic setup of modern day slavery known as prison. She is also the director behind the movie “Selma” that was released in 2014.
You can watch “When They See Us” now on Netflix.
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