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Review - Oklahoma City

By midlandsmovies, Mar 7 2017 09:31AM

Oklahoma City (2017) Dir. Barak Goodman

This documentary follows the background to the most devastating incident of domestic terrorism in US history when, in 1995, Timothy McVeigh exploded a bomb outside a Government building which killed 168 people.

Opening with a harrowing recording of a council meeting in the building seconds before we hear the detonation, director Goodman keeps it simple with the usual mix of historical clips mixed with personalised accounts.

However, what the director doesn’t play safe with is linking the bombing to McVeigh’s warped right-wing ideology – a notion that still echoes today and is extremely prescient in 2017. From neo-nazi havens in the woods to the Waco incident where cult leader David Koresh advised his followers to resist government interference, the documentary shows the small steps leading to the tragic day.

Disillusioned by his experience in the Gulf War, McVeigh intends to show the Government what they are up against as he taunts the law enforcement agency after his disillusionment with their response at Waco. With links to the pro-gun lobby, McVeigh shows zero remorse as he is captured – and ultimately executed – for his crimes.

The doc follows a standard narrative but the filmmaker lets the disturbing facts stand for themselves. A shocking set of photos of injured babies – there was a day-care centre in the government building McVeigh targeted – are some of the most alarming scenes I’ve ever witnessed in a documentary. Almost shielding my eyes, the tragedy is made all-too-real as the personal impact on families and individuals is displayed.

Closing with the inevitable outcome, McVeigh’s voice in recorded interviews before his execution echoes his thoughts from the start. That this was a necessary act, casualties were to be expected and it should represent a wake-up call to the US Government. But most chilling of all is his tone of non-repentance or shame: “It was 168 to 1”.

Against a backdrop of dangerous historical confrontations and racist dogma, Oklahoma is a darkly disturbing documentary that sheds contextual light on what could be seen as a lone-nut incident yet proposes a much more complex set of circumstances that lead to a national tragedy.


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