The Thin Blue Line (1988)

by George Watches Things


The Thin Blue Line begins with a cop stepping out of his car. As more people and points of view are added to this action, the story gets longer.

The characters in Errol Morris documentaries are always vivid. In fact, they’re more vivid (and therefore more unbelievable) than the wildest characters in the wildest soap opera dramas. And some of them are just as unintentionally funny as those ridiculous characters too.

The smug smile on the blonde, red-faced woman. The “choc. liquid” found on the side of the road. The subtle sexism at the Dallas Police Department. These are small, humorous, and perfect details that don’t need to be in this movie. But they are, and they make it great. Attention to detail this acute is not often found in cinema.

The 1988 documentary follows the events of a fall night in Dallas, Texas, when a police officer was shot while on duty, and the consequences stemming from it.

One of the brilliant strokes of this film is the ending. The final interview, which was taped, shows no faces. All the emotion comes from the tone of David Harris’ voice. Sometimes, fact is more compelling than fiction. That is certainly the truth here.