Ezra Edelman’s 5-part documentary series OJ: Made in America—that did get a theatrical release—is one of the most epic, all-encompassing, totally bizarre, and culturally important biographical documentaries ever made. The one problem with it is that it isn’t really a movie in the traditional sense. We are in nontraditional times, but the rules still have confines.
However, OJ is just too unbelievably well-crafted to be categorized or boxed-in. It’s tense drama; its biting journalism; its social commentary; it’s a celebrity-driven takedown of celebrity. It’s pretty much everything and probably something more. It is the Moby Dick of non-fiction storytelling on film.
OJ Simpson is a murderer. He killed his wife Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. Savagely. That is central event of a story of race, culture, and sports that spans fifty-plus years and still lives on today. Everything converged into a single man and his murder trial. It couldn’t have been scripted, because things like this are too strange to be fiction.
What Ezra Edelman accomplished is once-in-a-lifetime type stuff. Too bad it had to be about such hideousness. The silver lining is that through horror we can learn about humanity. The only thing I wished he had done differently is that the last shot would have been about the two victims of a brutal murder, rather than a nostalgic look at the once great athlete and figure.
These are the lessons that OJ: Made in America teaches—don’t idolize celebrity, people are sometimes not at all who they appear, the mob makes for a horrible judge, the 24-hour news-cycle will live forever.