The last 24 hours in the life of Nicole Brown Simpson is hardly a story that we haven't heard before. Anyone living in the US with a TV or a radio has heard almost every detail involved in what has proven to be one of the most infamous crimes of our generation.
We all remember the white Ford Bronco and the slow-moving car chase down the California freeway, the questions asked: "Where is he going?" "Is he going to kill himself?" We all remember those words echoed again and again: "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit." The dime store show of OJ trying to fit the glove on his hand.
Watching this film, Nicole Brown Simpson: Her Final Hours, the last of the four Final 24 DVDs released in June by MVD Entertainment Group, had an unexpected effect on me. There were many details that I had forgotten: The fuss over the fast food OJ Simpson had gotten with Kato Kaelin. Did OJ eat his sandwich in the car or did he wait until he got home? What time did OJ call his girlfriend from his cell phone? The limo driver rang the bell, but no answer. He saw a figure that looked like OJ approach the back door, he called again and OJ answered. I was reminded of all of these details as I watched — but for the first time, with the perspective that years have allowed.
At the time of the murders it was easy enough to write our fascination off as merely another celebrity freak show. To convince ourselves that we were addicted to watching because it was a train wreck. But watching in hindsight, putting OJ Simpson's celebrity aside, the true horror of this tragedy hits full force, like a punch to the gut.
The brutality of the crime, and of the abuse that preceded it, is difficult to watch without the obscuring veil of Hollywood's nebulosity. Nicole, nearly decapitated, Ron Goldman slaughtered, both bodies left lying in the walkway in front of her home. The realization that, had it not been for Nicole's Akita tracking bloody paw prints on the sidewalk, the people most likely to have found their bodies were the two small children sleeping soundly upstairs in the house.
It's a difficult thing to say this is a great film that I enjoyed. I can only say this: it was a film that I appreciated. I appreciated the care taken to create it in a way that was not exploitative, but informational. It not only explored the murder and the seven-year marriage of OJ and Nicole, the producers also included discussions with Nicole's therapist, Susan Forward, who explains the proclivities of this sort of relationship, that it is mutually obsessive and a difficult cycle to break.
It also includes dialogue from Nicole's sister, Tanya, and not a vitriolic rampage. She talks about the deep love OJ and Nicole had for one another and the wonderful relationship they all shared. She speaks of missing her sister's humor and warmth, talking to her on the telephone. She shares that on the same day of the murders Nicole had said to her mother that OJ was her soulmate, and always will be. She doesn't focus on bitterness towards OJ, she focuses instead on all of the wonderful memories she has of her sister.
The series Final 24 released by MVD Entertainment Group is part documentary and part biography. It examines the lives of the famous dead, looking for the clues, the harbingers, of what was to come. By examining the past, and re-creating the events that occurred on the day they died, producer Nick Godwin is able to capture, through reflection, the tragic end that was always rushing towards them like a head-on train.
Nicole Brown Simpson: Her Final Hours features commentary from Nicole's friends David Lebon and Ron Hardy as well as sports journalist Art Spander and homicide detective Tom Lange. Together they tell the life stories of Nicole and OJ, both together and apart, the events that led up to the tragic night of her death, and what has now become of the infamous home at 875 S. Bundy Drive in Brentwood, California.
Previously in the Final 24 review series:
Coming next: Sid Vicious: His Final Hours