Let’s face it. An international murder mystery that has been followed by millions will ultimately catch the eyes of filmmakers wanting to cash in. Lifetime television is airing a movie later this month based on the Amanda Knox case. “Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy,” (promo photo left) debuts February 21, much to the dismay of the murder victim’s father, John Kercher.
In a recap, Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito, and Rudy Guede all received between 16- and 26-year sentences in the brutal and violent murder of Meredith Kercher. However, the voracious debate regarding Knox’s guilt rages on. “Foxy Knoxy,” as she has been deemed by the media, is currently appealing her conviction in Italy. Knox’s attorneys have formally requested Lifetime pull the movie or face legal consequences. They fear the movie may potentially taint the trial. After viewing the trailer (below) for the movie, which includes an incredibly graphic scene of Knox holding down Kercher as she screams, John Kercher was appalled.
“To actually see it is distressing. The scenes are absolutely horrific,” John Kercher told Britain’s The Sun. “It’s awful what these film people have done. I’m surprised they have gone so far.”
According to ABC News, Knox was able to view the movie trailer in her prison cell and became physically ill upon doing so. You can view the trailer here and at the end of this post.
So, did Lifetime cross the line? It boils down to a matter of ethics, and Lifetime television is certainly not the pioneer here in bringing a true horrific case to television. Helter Skelter, anyone? I’m sure Sharon Tate’s sister wasn’t exactly cheering at the notion of her sister’s murder being played out in front of millions. Let’s not forget Farrah Fawcett being nominated for an Emmy Award for her portrayal of Diane Downs in Small Sacrifices, and Francine Hughes in The Burning Bed. Both stories were horrific real-life tragedies. At the time, The Burning Bed was one of the most-watched shows on television ever. Both of those movies were based on the true crime books, and a quick glimpse on Amazon revealed a total of eight books already on the shelves pertaining to Amanda Knox. Where was the outrage there?
I’m pretty torn on this debate. As a true crime author who has faced backlash from family members of a murder victim, the question always posed itself: “Authors and journalists have been writing about murders for decades, what makes your family so special that we shouldn’t? People have a right to know.” On the flip side, I’m a mother and if something happened to one of my children—that was later played out on television or film—I’m confident I would get violently ill. There’s also the standard that surfaces when a debate like this happens: “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.”
The Lifetime movie about Amanda Knox appears to portray her as a vicious, knife-wielding psychopath, from the looks of the trailer. Regardless, actress Hayden Panettiere—who plays Knox in the movie—gives us her idiotic expertise. In a contradictory statement, Panettiere seems to think that butchering an innocent girl isn’t malicious and no intent was involved.
She said: “This is such a vulnerable story, and, specifically, Amanda was so needy. My job was to play a girl who, regardless of what happened, was innocent in who she was. She's not a malicious girl. She didn't have any intention to do this. This wasn't an angry or dark girl. Whatever it was that happened that night, people's lives were ruined. But it was my job to stay pretty true to form in who she seemed to be as a person in court and otherwise.”
“Regardless of what happened, was innocent in who she was…” Eh, I’m pretty sure Ted Bundy, Diane Downs, and Jeffrey Dahmer all felt they were “innocent in who they were” too. Panettiere should probably just shut her trap and do what she does best: act. (Although, that statement seems questionable as well after I viewed the trailer.)
I have absolutely no opinion on the guilt or innocence of Amanda Knox. The amount of evidence makes my head spin, and I have chosen not to follow the case in detail. But, my opinion on whether or not to air the movie is general. People will typically watch a movie than read a true crime book. If there is the potential that a movie could jeopardize a trial, I say wait. Lifetime has the right to air the movie, but they should hold off until Knox’s trial is over.