This is a series of occasional articles on my experiences writing "Devil's Knot."
As writers we need to always remember that any movie based on a true story has real people's lives behind it. Everyone surely knows and understands that. It's hard, though, to embrace that thought wholly when you're trying to fulfill story obligations and decisions, and when the story you are trying to tell is as complex as "Devil's Knot." This is a lesson I took from my work on my script for "Devil's Knot." It took me a while to fully "get it" but I did. I carry that lesson with me now and for always.
If you don't know, "Devil's Knot" is a non-fiction book by journalist Mara Leveritt that explores the truths and falsehoods behind the accusations of murder in Arkansas in 1993. It was made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth in 2005. Witherspoon played one of the mothers of one of the victims and Firth played a private investigator.
The background: In 1993, after a horrifying discovery that three eight-year-old boys were brutally killed, three teenage boys, Jessie Misskelley (16), Jason Baldwin (17) and Damien Echols (18) were then railroaded by a court and community panicked and hungry for closure.
What happened was terrible and frightening by anyone's standards. The mind boggles at how anyone can torture, mutilate and kill three eight-year-old innocents. Anyone responsible for that just doesn't seem human. The term demonic did and does easily come to mind and was used frequently by the residents of that area at the time.