Cold Blood : The Trial Of The Century

Timelines and storytelling are two of the important aspects of any trial which occurs in the American Courts. The story of “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote’s original publication in a four part article in The New Yorker, In Cold Blood was turned into a movie, some would say a documentary of the mass murder, it mirrors the crime O.J. Simpson was accused of in many aspects as being brutal and deliberate but as in both instances the stories appear to bring humanity and humanize the villains, whether it be a dirty cop, a murdering husband or just two ex-convicts who go on a murdering spree.

The film In Cold Blood based on Truman Capote’s novel tells the true story of two ex-convicts who go on a murder rampage in the state of Kansas and then were on the run after killing a family of four. It appears in the movie that the motive for the crime was greed as the two are depicted as two hoodlum or typical criminal personalities. However, as the story unfolds about the two murderers, there seems to be come mitigating circumstances which are exposed as to why they were the way they were.

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When two monstrous personalities get together, havoc ensues. Pursuant to the way this story was told, it led one to believe that although villainous, and their senseless acts of deplorable violence, there were circumstances that lead to humanizing the villains through the story telling. By Capote sensationalizing this crime it could be said that it is a blueprint by which other films are developed and portrayed when it comes to true crime drama.

Although the Clutter family in Holcomb Kansas was in 1959, Capote wrote in what he referred to as “New Journalism” style of writing.(Keenan, J. 2014) One of the surprising things is that Capote did not take notes when interviews were conducted with people for his book and “later claiming to have ‘near-perfect’ recall” (Keenan, J, 2014). It is interesting that the Kansas Bureau of Investigations received a tip and rant to investigate what was incriminating information about the two perpetrators. Due to their delay of five days after they were given this information, the murder’s had left the home and fled to “Florida where they would be implicated in another killing” (Kennan, J. 2014).

In Cold Blood was written in such a way that it became gripping, true crime drama of a case which had been publicized, tried and convicted the murderers and within 7 years they were both hung, which lead to the writing of In Cold Blood by Truman Capote and it was the last in a series of his great works. Capote took six years to write and research the crime and it took a great told on him personally. One ccould say that is taxes the soul when you are working so closely to such horrific individuals and go through the crime scene photos, evidence and speak with the murders. 

Although the characters of In Cold Blood did not have a true valiance nature about them, it became unnerving that they were just like anyone walking down the street on the outside. There was not a sign that pointed them out or set them apart. With opposite personalities, the two main characters together were lethal and were just like the boys down the street and the film personified and brought to light that not all murderers are evil looking, some look like the boy next door. Perry fit perfectly into society with his leather jacket and guitar, greased back hair and his boots which was the rendition of James Dean persona and Dick, although he was likable and a social man on the outside he was a narcissistic sociopath who had deviant thoughts flowing through his head.

Although In Cold Blood was described to be a work of non-fiction it won the 1966 Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1968 as well as numerous awards (Awards). The precise methods or Capote’s writing is very difficult to replicate as he claimed he was a self-taught ability in which to recall everything that he heard and could translate it with near perfection and accuracy (Keenen, 2014). Capote had an addition and that was he was a self-promoter who loved money and the Hollywood lifestyle and party scene. By the use of fiction and nonfictions forms Capote allowed this murder to be debatable (Clark, G. 1998).

Capote delivered the portrait of the small town unity; the model family that was murdered; the criminals which were also evidenced with photographic accuracy and the story from his eyes. The portrayal of Perry Smith as a child had dreams in which a parrot was “taller than Jesus” swooped down and rescued him from his terrible life, killing all the ones that had harmed him by pecking out their eyes and then “enfolding him” the bird carries him to what he calls paradise (Reverend).

There is no doubt that Perry Smith was a corrupt and demented individual from his own words when speaking about how people die and how he saw life. Capote detailed the physical aspects of Smith and Hickock excellently as he kept reminding people of their natures. From the crippled legs of Smith, the abuse he suffered as a child and his dreams of the big bird, Capote kept the audience aware of the mitigating circumstances which made him the way he was.

Hickock on the other hand outwardly showed his “serpentine eye”, sexual experiences and his heavy drinking who was vulgar and broke the social norm and really didn’t care (In Cold Blood), These two murderers were the contrary to the wholesome and moral family of the Clusters.



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