Task 2 : Aileen – The Life and Death of a Serial Killer

The representation of Aileen in this documentary is generally fair. It is fair in the fact that she is representing herself a lot of the time in the documentary as she is speaking for herself rather than the presenter speaking on her behalf. If the presenter spoke on behalf of Aileen constantly instead of interviewing her directly and letting her say what she wants, it could result in the documentary being unfair towards Aileen as what he says about her could be untrue or damaging towards her. Despite her talking herself and giving her own story, the filmmakers have the right to cut clips and adjust them to what they want her to sound like she is saying, we as an audience do not know if the clips of her talking have been tampered with to make us think she’s guilty but as Aileen clearly has signed a consent form, there could be something in that form saying that they can edit clips. At the beginning of the documentary, there is a montage of images and clips of the victims families and there are also pictures of the victims dead bodies at the crime scene, some people could say this is unfair towards Aileen and it makes her look like a monster but these are genuine crime scene pictures that she is being accused of and for the audience to understand what she may or may not have done is important to the story therefore not unfair towards her. In comparison to the docudrama “Monster” this documentary is much more fair towards Aileen. In Monster, as it is a film and not a documentary there is no way Aileen could be represented fairly, because she was not talking, she was not giving her own point of view, instead the film follows the point of view from what they gathered from her court case and this film, they literally called the film Monster which gives the audience bad connotations of Aileen before they even watch the film which potentially gave the world a very wrong and unfair view of Aileen.

The information in Aileen: The Life and Death of a Serial Killer is factual, accurate information. For example, when Nick Broomfield is introducing the documentary and who Aileen is, he states things such as “Aileen has been accused of murdering 7 men” “She was a prostitute” etc. This information is correct as we watch the interviews where she admits such things and the court talking about this information. When making this documentary Nick Broomfield and the filmmakers would have done huge amounts of research into Aileen and her case, they do this so they can give accurate information to the audience rather than just opinions or un justified facts. Aside from the presenters information, it is unclear if the information Aileen gives Nick is accurate or not. For example, a lot of the documentary is trying to figure out of Aileen killed these men out of cold blood or she killed them out of defence. Aileen in court says that she killed them out of defence because they tried to rape or kill her. After a while she beings to say she did it out of cold blood and she says this to Nick when the cameras are on her, for example she stares at the camera and says “If you let me out ill kill again” then when she thinks the cameras are off, she speaks to Nick and tells him that she did kill them out of self defence but she wants to die therefore will say anything to hurry up her death sentence. This leaves the audience confused as to what they should believe, it is hard to figure out which side of her story is true which is what makes this documentary very interesting and thought provoking.

The information in this documentary is balanced. When a documentary is balanced, it means that it does not take sides and it
considers both points of view in an argument or situation equally. This documentary does this well. Nick Broomfield has many interviews with Aileen and her answers are very back-and-forth, one moment she will say she did it out of cold blood and the next she will say it was self defence and she has gone back and forth on her answers many times during the documentary and this creates a sense of confusion in the audience. To get a more diverse story Nick doesn’t only interview Aileen, he talks to her family and old friends too and by doing this, it creates balance because there is more than one side the her story and more than one opinion being voiced. If he only included the interviews he had with Aileen then the documentary would not be balanced as he wouldn’t be showing different opinions and by only showing one opinion the audience are sort of forced to side with that one opinion which creates a bias documentary.

I do not believe that the information in this documentary is subjective. A subjective documentary is when it is opinion led. For example if Nick Broomfield’s opinion was that she committed these murderers through self defence and he made his opinion clear in the documentary and he made the documentary very one sided and tried to persuade us toward his opinion then it would make this documentary subjective. In some way, it could be argued that this is slightly subjective and that no documentary can be truly objective because the filmmakers, including Nick all had conscious decisions to add and to not add certain bits of interviews and information and scenes from the court room, they have selected the bits they want to add in the film to create an opinion in the audience, even if Nick doesn’t say his own opinion in the actual documentary, through editing he could subtly sway the audience into thinking a certain opinion.  In this documentary, Nick doesn’t state his opinion to the audience as to if he personally thinks she did it out of self defence or not, he just interviews Aileen and her family and friends and observes the happenings in the court room. He successfully shows different opinions towards Aileen and what she did and he doesn’t lead the documentary into his own agenda which means this isn’t a fully subjective documentary.

The information in this documentary


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