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November 27th, 2014

Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer

Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial KillerNick Broomfield works for the BBC and has done an entire work of fantastic documentaries. I have seen most of them and oddly enough it took me until this week to realize that most of my favourite documentary films are his work. This week I watched two of his documentaries on Netflix and true to form they enthralled, entertained and made me question the norm. The one that left the strongest mark on me and frankly a reaction I did not expect to have was the documentary titled ‘Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer’

British documentarian Nick Broomfield trains his lens on infamous serial killer Aileen Wuornos, who began her murder spree in 1992. A highway prostitute at the age of 13, Wuornos was convicted of killing six semi-truck drivers who she insisted tried to rape her. After being convicted of murder, Wuornos was eventually executed in Florida in 2002. She was the 10th woman ever to be executed in the United States.

This is actually the second documentary by Nick Broomfield on the topic of Aileen Wournos but I have not seen the original film which is titled Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer. It isn’t on Netflix on Demand in Canada but I am sure that those of you in the US can likely check out the original film that is the basis for this documentary since you have way more viewing options then I do. This film sees Nick Broomfield revisit the story and also reunite with the female serial killer when he is subpoenad to appear in court as her appeals of her death sentence continue.

I am not really going to get to much into the film but it gives you a look back at the original story and a bit of a ‘where are they now’ moment as Nick Broomfield reconnects with Aileen’s friends, and her original lawyer to see how their lives have gone on since the original documentary. It also reveals the complete about face that Aileen has on the murders and the crimes she committed. Gone are her tear filled excuses and instead she reveals the brutal truth of her cold blooded murders and offers apologies to the victims and their families. Nestled within this is the clear indication that Aileen Wourno’s is clearly not competent in any possible way.

The point if anything I want to make from this movie is how strange it made me feel so much so I wondered if Nick was somehow manipulating me with his filmmaking. Watching this film I had no sympathy for Aileen and what she did and certainly I believe justice was done for her vicious actions but I couldn’t help but feeling that society let her down. I found myself feeling empathy for Aileen and the fact that the vicious and brutal killer who clearly had no heart for most of society was a victim of society and a tragic product of  her environment.

Nick Broomfield spends a short period of time recapping Aileen Wournos life and the tragedy that I feel turned her into the killer that she was. Nick Broomfields film sheds a new human element on the story which we all think we know so well. If you have a heart at all this new documentary will make you feel sorry not for Aileeen Wournos but for who she was as a child and the complete lack of care and compassion that society showed her and how that transformed her into the most notorious American female serial killer. A moving film that will touch you in strange ways and one I suggest you give a chance if you are into the crime-documentary genre.




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