Movie Review: An American Crime


There’s so much hate online. Faceless people spew venom. Don’t think it’s a joke. It’s real. What you post online reflects who you exactly are. I take it seriously. That’s what you are. The things you say are exactly the things you’d do, given the opportunity or absolute power.
Many wars around the world are triggered by hate, not political ideologies or the scramble for the limited resources. Religions fight one another and it’s all due to hate. Many assassinations are rooted to hate. Tribal wars, family conflicts— hate plays a big role. It could be concealed for a while, it could be disguised, it could take the form of flattery, mockery, criticism, but eventually, it’ll demand a bloodshed if left to blossom.

This is what Genesis 37:3 says:
“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he [was] the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of [many] colors.”  KJV
Maybe you should read the whole of the chapter, keenly paying attention to the following words “hate” “envy”, so as to get the full picture.
Israel (that is, Mr. Jacob) loved Joseph more because he was a child he bore in his old age.  That’s understandable. It’s natural, even if quite unfair. He loved all his kids, but Joseph was special.
Yet hear what Genesis 37:4 says down there:

And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.”

Joseph’s brothers hated him with so much intense passion. Sadly, they had no valid cause to hate their younger brother.
It was a hate triggered by jealousy and low self-worth on their part. This was an innocent, harmless boy. All they had to do was deal with the reality in a mature way. The boy was no threat. Why would these men hate their younger brother so much they hatched a plan to murder him?

Hate is a deadly poison. Hate is a corrosive acid. Firstly, it destroys the cup that contains it. Whoever is harboring hate is its first casualty.

Hate POLLUTE the heart and bewilder the mind. Whoever is full of hate loses reason and surrenders to emotions. He loses sight. He’s blinded by rage. He envisions all forms of harm he can inflict on the supposed enemy.
Why would you sell your own younger brother to strangers, as these sons of Jacob did?  They were not really bad people, as we learn in the following chapters. Judah was a reasonable, kind man. Reuben too. But for the moment, hate had consumed them, in its deadly acid and reduced them to animals. They lost sight of their morals. That’s what hate does. By the time you realize you need to stop, it’s too late. Reuben thought of saving Joseph when it’s late.

I like watching certain movies. I recently watched a movie called
An American Crime, about an unbelievable brutality in the family.
A young, innocent lady is tortured to death by the very people who should be taking care of her. What broke my heart was the fact that it’s based on a true story, a fact I verified on Google. The movie is about the hate in our hearts, our human condition and the strange animal hate grows up to become if we nurture it well. An American Crime is a movie you should watch. It speaks to the soul. Are you nurturing hate against someone?

This is what one movie reviewer say about this movie:

“While watching “An American Crime”, at halfway if not right from the beginning, tears will stream down your eyes and leave you emotionally devastated!
Back in the 1900’s, there were many events such as war and famine that left families standing in long lines to buy a loaf of bread, a pound of meat or other basic food items for survival. In 1965, at Gertrude Baniszewski’s house in Indiana, U.S.A., there were also long lines. But her line up was not people wanting to buy something to eat. It was for people who wanted to torture, to beat, to cripple, to disfigure, and to burn a young girl with cigarettes and matches. Hers was a line of depravity and twisted minds which most people will find horrifying!
Gertrude Baniszewski`s house was open to anyone who wanted to have “fun” with a helpless, defenseless, sixteen-year-old girl. Sylvia Likens happened to live in the house of the most brutal, heartless, and ruthless person that has ever lived. Sadly, in the entire neighborhood, there was no one who would step forward to come to Sylvia’s defense or to call for help. Gertrude, her kids, and the neighborhood children did anything they wanted to with Sylvia, anytime they wanted to, leaving her to die in the most painful and torturous way possible, as a result of what one official called ‘the single worst crime perpetrated against an individual in Indiana’s history’ – to cineastes it is known under the title of “An American Crime”.
This movie is based on a true story. In July 1965, Lester (Nick Searcy) and Betty Likens (Romy Rosemont) were traveling carnival workers. Since they could not afford to look after their two daughters, Sylvia, 16 (Ellen Page) and Jennie Likens, 15 (Hayley McFarland), while they work across the state, it was proposed to the parents that the Baniszewski’s take their girls as boarders in return for $20 a week in compensation. However, when Lester Likens`s first payment was late, Gertrude (Catherine Keener) beat up the girls, and soon after, locked Sylvia in the basement.

She began a bathing regime to “cleanse” Sylvia of which several different forms of torture were involved: cutting out filthy words into her abdomen with a hot sewing needle, burning cigarettes and matches on her body – and that is just the start. After all, being overprotective of her children to a stage of madness, Gertrude made sure that the crime perpetrated by her against Sylvia will be the most brutal and excruciating in terrifyingly perfect way leaving Sylvia no chance for survival. And for you, as viewers, she will leave you nothing, but ‘tears to wipe from your eyes’.
“An American Crime” is a crime-drama film written and directed by Tommy O`Haver and officially premiered in May, 2008. Since then I`ve seen this film three times. Every time I watched it, I promised myself never to do it again. However, it`s really hard to keep this promise when it comes to O`Haver`s film since it touches so many aspects of story that still terrifies Indianapolis and all of America. O`Haver does a great job directing “An American Crime” by bringing out all the little details that will terrify you, while making you see the direness of our human condition. But one thing is sure. While watching this film, at halfway if not right from the beginning, tears will stream down your eyes and leave you emotionally devastated! The only question you will have throughout the film is “Why?” But don`t be surprised when you don`t get a response because it’s always hard to explain why people do such awful things to other human beings; to people who can`t defend themselves; why their cruelty and predation are almost unspeakable…”
That’s hate. That’s what hate can do.

The kind of hate I talk of is the one fuelled by the inferiority complex. It starts with baseless jealousy. You feel inadequate before someone. You feel he is much more endowed than you. You could be on the same level as him, earning equal salaries, living in the same suburb, yet when he talks, you feel worthless. You feel useless. It could be his oratory skills, his charm, his better looks, or intelligence. You let this jealous take over you and soon you’re full of hate. The next thing is, you’re planning to harm this friend. At first, you want to do it in secret. But as your heart rots further with more self-manufactured poison, you are willing to destroy him openly. In fact that’s how the jews, the descendants of Judah, murdered Jesus. The intense hate could no longer be sealed. Sarcasm, demeans, insults, and mockery could no longer satisfy them. They had to kill him now.

The sons of Jacob had lost the sense of self-worth. They forgot each of them was gifted in various unique ways. Judah was a born leader. But all these meant nothing. All they saw was Joseph and his coat of many colors. Why would the dreams of your younger brother cause you pain if you believe they are just dreams? Joseph dreamt his brothers would serve him. His brothers dismissed the dream as an idle talk, but still went ahead to plan his murder in the wilderness when they found an opportunity. Calling him “that dreamer” was no longer effective. Mockery had failed.
Once you let hate rule over you, you’ll find faults everywhere. In fact you’ll spend much of your time and energy looking for faults. If someone you hate wishes you Happy Birthday, you find fault with it. You wonder what’s behind the wish.

Saul, a whole King, reduced himself to a fool, running after David, a mere musician and a herds boy. It was fuelled by hate. Saul forgot his own prowess. He forgot God himself had chosen him among others to be the first king of Israel. All these personal achievements lost taste as hate ruled over him. In fact he forgot his own goals in life. He forgot the real enemy he should focus on were the Philistines. This hate led him to hunt David like an animal, led him to murder God’s priests, led him to estrange himself further from God, led him to disown his own son Jonathan. And the rest is history. He died a shameful death. Remember I talk of a baseless hate, triggered by jealousy and diminishing Self-Esteem. Cain killed Habel by this particular hate. They were not fighting over an inheritance.

Now, I think much of the hate in the world would come down if certain people became humble. You could be the best writer, the best journalist, the most beautiful, a great poet, etc, but humble yourself. You don’t have everything. Soon, you’ll meet someone better than you. Don’t imagine you deserve all the praises, adoration and attention in the world. Trouble usually begins here. Some people imagine they know better than anyone else. If they are opposed, if attention shifts elsewhere, their ego is bruised. Their great but fragile pride is wounded. They crumble under the weight of jealous and hell breaks loose.
Believe in yourself, acknowledge deserved praises but humble yourself.

Let me conclude by repeating my preface: There’s so much hate online. Faceless people spew venom. Don’t think it’s a joke. It’s real. What you post online reflects who you exactly are. I take it seriously. That’s what you are. The things you say are exactly the things you’d do, given an opportunity or absolute power.

You may be an atheist, you don’t give much weight to these bible stories. But you have seen how Muslim extremists behead their victims. That’s hate in action.

Rise above hate. Believe in yourself. Know who you are.

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4 thoughts on “Movie Review: An American Crime

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