A True-Crime Must-See

In A Wilderness of Error, Errol Morris ’69 revisits a notorious murder case.

Errol Morris

Morris reexamines the infamous case of a former army surgeon convicted of his family’s murder in 1979. Nubar Alexanian

The five-part documentary series A Wilderness of Error, which first aired on FX last fall, stars Oscar-winning filmmaker, author, and former private detective Errol Morris ’69 of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The series was directed and executive-produced by Emmy Award–winner Marc Smerling and is based on Morris’s New York Times best-selling book of the same name. It examines the infamous case of former army surgeon Jeffrey MacDonald, who was convicted of his family’s murder in 1979. The documentary shares multiple viewpoints and addresses the various narratives around the case that challenge the ability to find the truth.

Poster for A Wilderness of Error documentary

FX Networks

“What’s really interesting about the MacDonald murder case is how many, many, many people have gone back over this,” Morris says at the start of the first episode. “It’s a case that resists definitive explanations. Wandering in that wilderness of conflicting evidence and interpretations, of mistakes, of errors.”

In September, the Hollywood Reporter noted Morris’s and Smerling’s past true-crime works: “If anybody is qualified to discuss the genre and its capacity to bring about justice, but also maybe its ability to obscure facts in a sea of storytelling artifice, it’s these two.” The article says the documentary is “a must-watch for true-crime devotees.”

Morris’s past work includes films such as The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara, The Thin Blue Line, and Gates of Heaven. FX’s A Wilderness of Error is streaming on FX on Hulu.

Published in the Spring 2021 issue

Tags: Alumni, Crime, Film, history, television

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