New Internationalist

Capturing the Friedmans

April 2004

The Friedmans – mum, dad and three boys – seem a normal suburban family. But Arnold, a teacher and one-time jazz musician, likes to look at pictures of naked boys. After the postal service intercepts a magazine he’s ordered, police raid the family home. They eventually charge Arnold and his son Jesse with hundreds of counts of sodomizing boys who attended Arnold’s after-school computer classes.

Jarecki’s documentary is an engrossing study of a family in crisis – and the validity of the police investigation. It’s a one-off: the Friedmans obsessively recorded themselves on film, even after the police charges. Jarecki builds his film around their home movies and we learn a lot about them. We know early on about Arnold’s sexuality and there’s a lingering sadness about him. Yet he’s witty, often good fun, and caring – he and his sons get on very well. Jesse, faced with three consecutive life sentences, pleads guilty to get a lesser sentence but is adamant about his own innocence.

Jarecki also presents contemporary TV footage and present-day interviews – with detectives, alleged victims, lawyers and the family. The original police interviews were insistent and suggestive, and this raises questions about social perceptions of sexual orientation. Jarecki doesn’t duck Arnold’s sexual attraction for boys – but was he a rapist? Did Jesse, in turn, become an abuser and rapist? If so, he and the family members and friends who remained loyal to him are brilliant liars.

Capturing the Friedmans shows how beliefs and memories can be fallible and truth elusive, leaving you with nagging questions.

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 366 This column was published in the April 2004 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

Never miss another story! Get our FREE fortnightly eNews

Comments on Capturing the Friedmans

Leave your comment







 

  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

...And all is quiet.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Capturing the Friedmans Fact File
Product information directed by Andrew Jarecki
Star rating4

Get our free fortnightly eNews

Multimedia

Videos from visionOntv’s globalviews channel.

Related articles

Recently in Film

All Film

Popular tags

All tags

This article was originally published in issue 366

New Internationalist Magazine issue 366
Issue 366

More articles from this issue

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.

Subscribe