Based on the true story of Lindy Chamberlain. During a camping trip to Ayers Rock in outback Australia, she claimed that she witnessed a dingo stealing her baby daughter, Azaria, from the family tent. Azaria's body was never found. Police noted some apparent inconsistencies in her story, and she was charged with murder. The case attracted a lot of attention, turning an investigation into a media circus, with the public divided in their opinions.Written by
Murray Chapman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Lindy Chamberlain refers to a case in which expert testimony wrongly sent three boys to prison. She's referring to the 1972 murder of Maxwell Confait in southeast London. Confait, 26, was strangled, and the building in which he lived was burned down. Eighteen-year-old Colin Lattimore, 15-year-old Ronnie Leighton, and 14-year-old Ahmet Salih were arrested and charged with murder and arson. All three had alibis, but three prominent forensic pathologists testified to the time of death. One, Dr. Cameron, changed his mind on the stand, and said Confait could have died at a time when the boys were not covered by their alibis. The boys were convicted and sentenced to prison. Two years later, the convictions were overturned. It turned out that Confait had been dead for more than 48 hours before the fire, and the forensic pathologists were wrong about the fire speeding up the on-set of rigor mortis. In 1980, Douglas Franklin was found to be the true murderer. See more »
In the end credits, the movie's copyright year is 1988. In Roman numerals, it would be MCMLXXXVIII. Instead, the year is MCMLXXXIII, 1983. See more »
The facts in the case of an Australian couple persecuted by a headline-hungry press should be familiar to viewers of the CBS news show 60 Minutes, which aired the story (not coincidentally) just before this film was released. Both versions recount the disappearance during a weekend camping trip of Lindy and Michael Chamberlain's infant daughter, and the subsequent three-ring media circus which led to wild (and totally fabricated) accusations of cult fanaticism and ritual sacrifices, and eventually to a murder conviction for the bereaved mother. But the big screen dramatization has more in mind than just a strong reprimand for misguided journalism ethics. The reporters covering the case are shown to be more ferocious than the wild dingo dog claimed by the Chamberlain's to have killed their child, but the screenplay wisely implicates public opinion as well, which condemned Lindy Chamberlain to prison for not having a telegenic personality (the same trait might also lose her sympathy with moviegoers, despite another challenging performance by Meryl Streep). Director Fred Schepisi presents the story as a straightforward, undemonstrative docudrama, letting the cold-blooded courtroom drama speak for itself, with a pair of excellent actors (Streep and Sam Neill) taking up the slack.
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