'O.J.: Made In America' Director On Why Simpson Still Fascinates Us So Many Years Later
Twenty-two years may have passed since the infamous Bronco chase, but O.J. Simpson still dominated the zeitgeist in 2016. The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story brought Simpson back to the forefront when the ten-episode series premiered on FX in February, and the national (re)fixation deepened a few months later, when O.J.: Made in America aired on ESPN.
"Ezra Edelman pulls back, way back, like a news chopper over a freeway chase. Before you hear about the trial, the documentary says, you need to hear all the stories—the stories of race, celebrity, sports, America—that it's a part of," New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik explained. Chuck Klosterman called O.J.: Made in America "the greatest thing ESPN has ever produced." The film was awarded the Academy Award for Best Documentary on Sunday, and the film's director and producer were asked why Simpson still fascinates us, so many years later."Like many other reporters in this room, I followed every second of O.J., reported on it, but I never dreamt that this many years later it would be a conversational point...Can you understand this movie, the TV movie, why it—we know the outcome, why it became such a topic again?" a reporter asked the film's director Ezra Edelman in the backstage press room just after his win. "
"Well, history is the present," Edelman said. "It's past, but it's present. And I can't speak for the FX series, but I know that when we were offered the chance to make this movie, it was very clear that the story that was covered and told 20‑some‑odd years ago, you know, we were missing something. And we were missing the context to have us understand how we got to that moment, how we ended up where we did after that trial."
"There was room for more of this story to be told, and that people have responded the way they did to the film, I think speaks to that," Edelman continued. "It's an American story about these fundamental American themes, race, celebrity, class, gender, domestic abuse, the criminal justice system, the media. It's sports, sex, murder. It has everything."
"And so I think that's why it's always going to be something that fascinates us, and I think there is a lack of resolution, considering what happened with the trial and when many people—the majority of people saw one thing, how it ended up was something else, and so I think there is always going to be a sense of intrigue surrounding that story."