It never occurred to me that someone might think that the re-enactments were not re-enactments at all, but honest-to-God vérité footage shot while the crime was happening. It’s crazy for someone to think I had just happened to be out on that roadway, that night, with a 35-millimeter film crew and many, many cameras – cameras taking multiple angles, high angles from overhead, low angles at tire-level looking under the car, even angles inside the suspect vehicle. How could anyone think that? How could anyone believe that? Of course, people believe some pretty amazing things, and it made me think: is it a legitimate question? How do we know what is real and what is re-enacted in a photograph? What is real and what is a simulacrum? It’s a question about images. How do we know what is happening for the first time and what is a re-enactment of an event? In a photograph or in a movie? How do we know it hasn’t been doctored or altered to deceive us about the “reality” we imagine we are observing?
Documentary film-maker Errol Morris talks about the use of re-enactments in documentaries, and the whole problem of portraying the truth. Very thought-provoking. In two parts.