Hey guys, Jana here,
‘Oklahoma City‘ is a documentary about the tragic bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. It comes from writer/director Barak Goodman (‘American Experience‘, ‘Frontline‘) and was nominated for an Emmy along with the other producers on the project, Emily Singer Chapman, Mark Samels (a previous winner of several Emmy’s and three times as many nominations), and Susan Bellows (also an Emmy winner and multiple time nominee). PBS aired the doc at the earlier part of 2017 but it made the festival circuits this summer and was an Official Selection for the 2017 Sundance Film Festival where it met positive reviews.
When I began watching this, I expected a straight-forward documentary re-hashing the who, what, why and where of this horrific chapter in America’s history. I was surprised to see that the film was broken into several parts with each covering a different violent event that influenced the convicted mastermind, Timothy McVeigh, into action. It’s a long way round to cover the event and it was definitely informative. It might be better titled ‘An American Tragedy’ or something more broad as the last half of the doc is the only one that really focused on the OKC bombing.
There was plenty of information about the Ruby Ridge and Waco disasters that led McVeigh in a convoluted way to view America as the ultimate bully, thereby justifying his eventual actions. It’s not the typical doc we’ve seen dozens of times and there was a bit of new information I had been unaware of before watching this. We have to remember this was a time when the alt-right was seeing a threat to their 2nd Amendment Rights with President Clinton’s passing of the Brady Bill. At the same time, it seems to be a bit of a sanitized version of events and absolves the government from any wrong-doing. Specifically the lack of communication between the police and the US Marshall’s office in the Ruby Ridge event and, in Waco, the legality, or not, of the original search warrant, and of the ATF’s use of force and National Guard assets within the original warrant.
The first-hand accounts of those that were in the building, lost children, the responding officers, FBI agents and members of the team that put the puzzle pieces together to discover the culprits that planned and carried out this atrocity are chilling. The emotion that can be seen in their eyes puts us front and center, living their pain with them.
This is definitely something you should put on your list to watch if you’re interested in American History, True Crime, or just documentaries in general.