An overview of the evolution of crime films, their authenticity, the issue of using films to change public behavior and whether crime films, in the last two decades, have influenced public thinking about such matters as crime, prisons and capital punishment.
by J.J. Maloney
Motion pictures have a way of creating their own reality. It is only through the strange power of film that one finds an audience of ordinary people cheering Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lector, at the end of Silence of the Lambs, because Lector has not only gotten away, but plans to kill and eat the superintendent of the mental hospital Lector had been confined in.
Or "caper" films, in which the audience roots for the criminals who pull off a big job and get away (of course they often do this in real life, as anyone who remembers the Brink's Job will recall).
Or "Death Wish" philosophy films wherein rogue (but good) cops indiscriminately kill the bad guys because the "system" doesn't work anymore.
Because of a motion picture's power to capture the imagination, there have always been those who would harness this power to try to achieve one purpose or another.