By Candace Dempsey, author of MURDER IN ITALY, the story of Amanda Knox. Winner of Best True Crime 2010 Editor’s and Reader’s Choice awards. Library Journal Bestseller. Get case updates and leave comments on Facebook and Twitter @Candace_Dempsey.
I give Lifetime’s hotly awaited Amanda Knox film a D for truthiness. (See my list of the 27 biggest fibs below.) Bowl cleaner ads plagued viewers, killing suspense. Hayden Panettiere and Marcia Gay Harden provided the only chemistry, struggling to portray Knox and her mother, Edda Mellas. I liked the prison visit and interrogation scenes, but most lacked tension, taste and believability. At times, I nearly laughed.
Hayden didn’t help matters, going on TV beforehand to insist that “Murder on Trial in Italy” won’t hurt Amanda’s appeal chances because “It’s pretty fact-driven.” Yeah, that would’ve been nice. She begged the Knox family to give the film a chance. Instead, the trailer made Amanda sick. Hayden said her family offered to let her meet Amanda, but she decided the one-hour drive from Rome to Capanne Prison would be too difficult while filming.
Here’s my fib list. I use chronological order, but the film skipped around. Recall that Lifetime faces legal challenges from all families involved, because the case is on appeal, the jurors aren’t sequestered and Lifetime is helpfully selling the DVD for $19.99, for those who haven’t already pirated it. It’s also on ITunes and can be streamed for free on the Lifetime site for “a short period.”
In other words, all of Italy will see it.
Fibs spotted during Lifetime’s two-hour Amanda Knox biopic:
1. Amanda and Raffaele meet cute and then frolic at an outdoor amusement park they never visited during their six-day relationship. Amanda’s Italian roommate, Filomena, did ride the Ferris wheel on the night of the murder with her boyfriend.
2. Amanda and Raffaele never picknicked in icy Perugia that winter, nor has anyone in living memory.
3. Meredith never confronted Amanda over her messy bathroom. Meredith’s own friends testified that she was too reserved to address that issue so directly.
4. Lifetime has Amanda flying into a rage over the cleaning remark and stabbing Meredith to death. Obviously, this never happened.
5. Amanda and Meredith meet sketchy Rudy in a murky downstairs flat and smoke a joint, and then linger. In reality, both girls left after the joint.
6. Nobody ever saw Rudy kiss Amanda’s hand that night, nor is hand kissing an Italian custom.
7. Amanda never called, emailed or exchanged another word with Rudy, nor did Meredith. Lifetime shows the two girls grinning at him on the street.
8. We see Amanda and Raffaele buying drugs from Rudy, another fictional event. Police never caught him dealing drugs and he’s denied that he ever did.
9. Amanda never bared her cleavage. Hayden is the queen of the pushup bra.
10. Amanda never waved to the press. She hates us. Easy to see why.
11. Amanda didn’t come into court on a red carpet but from a police van in the back of the courthouse.
12. Her mother, Edda Mellas, isn’t Catholic and never wore a crucifix to court.
13. Lifetime Amanda flaunts her breasts while working in a Seattle “sports bar.” Real Amanda actually worked in a coffee shop, in T-shirts and jeans. She was 20, too young even to enter a bar, let alone work in one.
14. Meredith was fully dressed when attacked, as if she’d just come home. Lifetime strips her down to bra and panties. That is disgusting.
15. The murder room has been expanded by at least three feet to make a spacious orgy, since Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini has always claimed that Meredith was stabbed to death during a drug-fueled sex game gone wrong. The evidence doesn’t support that theory and the real room is about the size of a tablecloth. Lifetime also changed the furniture, adding a dresser.
16. Lifetime says Meredith’s bra was cut off several hours after the attack. No evidence supports this. The documentary after the movie also spouts this nonsense, as if the same fabulator had dipped his hand in both films.
17. The movie repeats a lie, that “abundant” DNA from Raffaele (Amanda’s Italian ex-boyfriend) was found on a bra clasp in the murder room. In reality, the DNA of at least three other people was found on it, hence the deceptive use of “abundant.” There is only a trace of Raffaele’s DNA, most likely the result of contamination. Rudy’s DNA is all over the bra, on the victim and inside her.
18. Crime scene photos do not show bits of glass atop clothing, in the room where a window was broken during the crime. The prosecution repeats this fiction to support its staged break-in theory, which Lifetime reports as fact.
19. The day after the murder, Amanda showered in a room that had a few blood drops, which she took to be menstrual blood. The movie has her ignoring large bloodstains.
20. That same day, Raffaele sneaks into a bedroom to call the carabinieri, after the postal cops arrive with Meredith’s stolen cell phones. Another whopper. As Rafafele’s defense team proved in court, he called 112 before the postals arrived.
21. Lifetime police see footprints outlined in luminol immediately at the scene and conclude the break-in was staged. In real life, they found no footprints in the murder room, only Rudy’s bloody shoe prints. Cops do not test or analyze evidence at the scene. They arrested Amanda before the tests even came back.
22. Amanda acts dry-eyed and too knowing in the police station after Meredith’s body was found. In reality, she and Raffaele rode to the station with two of Filomena’s friends, who told them Meredith had been stabbed to death. Amanda cried, in fact. The scene where Amanda tells a distraught Filomena that “of course Meredith suffered,” is fiction. Filomena testified to no such thing.
23. Police scream at Raffaele during his interrogation, insisting he and Amanda simultaneously turned off their phones on the night of the murder. They wave phone records in his face. First, phone records do not show that information. Second, Amanda turned off her phone after her boss called to say she didn’t have to work. Raffaele said he turned his off “sometime later.”
24. The movie claims that a storeowner came forward right after the crime and said he’d seen Amanda buying bleach the day the body was found. In fact, he waited several months and admitted that the young woman he saw hadn’t bought anything. His own employees said Amanda wasn’t there. Nor did she need bleach, since Raffaele had several unused bottles.
25. Amanda and Raffaele were never allowed to sit closely together in court, hence could not exchange shifty looks, as they do in the film.
26. Carlo Torre, defense expert, waves a large knife around in the courtroom, to act out the crime. In truth, he testified that the kitchen knife, supposedly wielded by Amanda, was too large to have made the wounds, didn’t match a bloody outline left on the bed, and couldn’t have been the murder weapon.
27. Patrick Lumumba, the man Amanda falsely accused, has a Jamacian accent. He’s from the Congo, but Lifetime has him saying “mon” this or that. Why, dear God, why?
My book on the spell-binding Amanda Knox case is MURDER IN ITALY (Penguin/Berkley Books). A Library Journal Bestseller. Winner of Best True Crime 2010 Editor’s Choice and Reader’s Choice awards. Called “a real-life murder mystery as terrifying and compelling as fiction,” it’s built on diary excerpts, wiretaps, court scenes, trial transcripts, first-hand experience and interviews with key players for all sides.
MURDER IN ITALY is online at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Indiebound. In bookstores everywhere, it’s also a Kindle & ebook. I’ll blog about the Knox case until the final appeal.
I love to hear from readers. Please email email@example.com.
My favorite tweets of day on Lifetime movie.
“They needed Gloria Allred, or Johnnie Cockran, or Robert Kardashian I, or some awesome ass attorney to get #amandaknox out.” Samantha J. Green
“Watched the Amanda Knox Lifetime Original Movie. It was badly done, tacky, irresponsible, libelous, stupid and totally awesome.” DhMargo