The Movie “The Thin Blue Line” Analysis

Title of film, including director, year of release, and studio that released it:

The Thin Blue Line Directed by Errol Morris Produced by Mark Lipson Written by Errol Morris Starring Randall Adams , David Harris Release date(s) August 25, 1988 Running time 103 min Language English

The corrupt Justice System of Dallas County, Texas, wrongly convicts a man for a murder.

Genre: Documentary, Crime, Mystery

A brief description of the main characters in the film:

  1. Randall Adams is convicted of murdering police officer in Dallas
  2. David Harris, a teen, the actual murderer of the police officer.
  3. Gus Rose, Jackie Johnson and Marshall Touchton are homicide Detectives in Dallas.
  4. Dale Holt is an Internal Affairs Investigator in Dallas.
  5. Sam Kittrell is a Police Detective in Vidor.
  6. Hootie Nelson, Dennis Johnson and Floyd Jackson are friends of David Harris in Vidor
  7. Edith James & Dennis White are defense attorneys.
  8. Don Metcalfe is the Judge.
  9. Emily Miller is a surprise eyewitness.

Randall Adams is convicted of murdering a police officer. Mr. Adams actually ran out of gas, hence, took a ride in Mr. Harris car. Harris was driving a stolen car. Both spent their day together drinking bear and smoking marijuana. Then later they went to see a movie. Adams insisted on going back home leaving the movie and Harris on his own. Robert Wood gave signal to the car to stop and then walked towards the car. Mr. Harris killed the policeman on the spot. Later he gave his testimony to the police that Adams murdered the policeman Robert Wood.

A Brief Description Of The Events That Allegedly Took Place

“The Thin Blue Line” is a documentary film of a true murder story of a Dallas police officer Robert Wood occurred in 1976. The thrilling movie revolves around solving the mystery of murder proving to overturn the conviction of Randall Dale Adams, who was sentenced to death in the murder case.

David Harris drives a stolen car. Randall Dale Adams took a ride in a stranger’s car, David Harris. When the police officer stopped the vehicle to check for the stolen car, Harris murders the police officer. Because of Harris wrong statements and testimony jury believes that Adam killed the officer. In the Morris’ film the two were extensively interviewed.

“”The Thin Blue Line” is not really structured as an investigation. It’s more like a reverie, filled with strangely exaggerated images and colored by the ominous hum of Philip Glass’s score. This means that minor details sometimes assume undue importance, upstaging key facts of the case: Mr. Morris’s slow-motion image of a milkshake flying through the air becomes much more memorable than the testimony of the policewoman who was drinking the shake, for example. Some striking shots of automobile tail lights distract attention from the process whereby the killer’s car was identified. The case itself is so complicated, and so fascinating, that there is reason to wish the facts emerged more clearly.” (NYTimes review)

In this case, judges’ decision seems to be incorrect and not in accordance with law applied. Though the defendant argued that he was innocent and all that criminal activity was not in his knowledge, court ruled it out because of testimony of Harris and witnesses. Defendant claim was that he was on ride from morning to night, but he had no arms and all that illegal arms activity was carried while he was not in the car, but when he already had left Harris car, and murder occurred in his absence.

However, the court and judges rejected his claim noting that conclusions from statute of judicial structure should not have any ambiguity of words. Morris in his film tries to investigate each and every fact with detailed interviews of all those involved in the case to provide evidences of Adam’s innocence.

Secondly, David Harris will not only be convicted of murder, but also for keeping arms illegally and a stolen car.

The Second Amendment dictates that the state and the people have the right to keep arms for their protection and security. It does not define which arms? But whatever arms they can keep in their possession for their security purpose.

Some pro-gunners (people who are in favor of keeping guns) believe that any kind of arms should be allowed and there should be no limitations to this rule. However, some are of the view that weapons of mass destruction should not be allowed. For example, use of nuclear weapons, tanks, bazookas and other military equipment should be banned. Some people are in favor of keeping automatic machine guns as part of their security. However, whatever the controversies are over the second amendment there must be some moral, ethical and legal limitations applied to this law. Because it is not possible to allow any kind of arms and weapons to people as it can prove to be hazardous.

“’The Second Amendment, unusually for constitutional provisions, contains a statement of purpose as well as a guarantee of a right to bear arms.’ (Stone et al, 1997) This unusual attribute, some argue, is reason for courts to interpret the Second Amendment quite differently than they interpret other constitutional provisions — perhaps to the point of reading it as having virtually no effect on government action.(Reynolds & Kates, 1995)”

An important thing is that rights are granted for protection and security of the citizens, not for violating law, destruction and injuring others. Hence, right granted cannot be absolute. Rights granted must have limitations in order to have their positive impact on the society and people.


Glenn Harlan Reynolds & Don B. Kates, The Second Amendment and States’ Rights: A Thought Experiment, 36 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 1737, 1765 (1995).

Maslin, Janet. Review/Film; Anatomy of a Murder: A Real-Life Whodunit. NYTimes.