Netflix’s Casting JonBenet Focuses on the Truth Connection
Writer and director, Kitty Green takes a completely different angle on the unsolved death of JonBenet Ramsey in Casting JonBenet. The case became the centerpiece for the nation’s upset, leading her parents, John and Patsy Ramsey’s to then seek the media’s attention through very publicized interviews soon afterwards.
Since then, there have been countless specials, movies, and documentaries – including more recently, in the wake of the 20-year anniversary of JonBenet’s death.
A&E released The Killing of JonBenet: The Truth Uncovered this past September, the first of many docuseries on the six-year-old beauty pageant queen. The Killing of JonBenet focused on DNA evidence, interviewed forensics, and took a step-by-step walk through of what may have occurred that night on Christmas Eve 1996. An article in Rolling Stone recaps the five important pieces of the case we learned from the docuseries.
Then JonBenet: An American Murder Mystery followed along on Investigation Discovery with a three-part series that included a variety of interviews and “exclusive footage,” according to Bustle.
Along with these specials on the famous case released around September 2016, Dr. Phil interviewed a much-older, Burke Ramsey, JonBenet’s then nine-year-old older brother. Burke gives his first media interview, leaving the audience feeling a little uncomfortable at his constant smiling throughout the interview.
CBS’ six-hour docuseries, The Case of: JonBenet Ramsey reexamines the case, including interviews with the original investigators from the 1996 murder and forensic specialists who bring new technology to the forefront to help us better understand the evidence that was presented.
Casting JonBenet does not come to take us through what happened that night, nor does it point too many fingers at who was directly to blame for the six-year-old’s death, however it does remind us that her parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, were under a great deal of shock – however the crime scene played out.
Kitty Green holds interview-like audition tapes for the roles of the main characters involved or supposedly involved in the Christmas 1996 murder case – the Ramsey family, John, Patsy, and Burke Ramsey, the coroner, psychologists who interviewed the family, reporters, the Police Chief, various police officers and first aids to the Ramsey house, the accusations surrounding a Santa Clause connection, as well as the strange claims of John Mark Karr, a former schoolteacher who falsely confessed to the murder of JonBenet, 10 years later, according to Bustle.
The unknowns auditioning for the roles of the key players in the case all discuss their point of view on the subject matter, mostly concerning themselves with how John and Patsy were going through at the time of her death. The auditionees also give personal experiences of losing a loved one, explaining the state of initial shock and leftover trauma that grief carries on with them. According to a review of Casting JonBenet from The New York Times, Kitty Green “records one performer after another” – the professional and nonprofessional actors interviewed are the only voices that take us through not only the evidence of that night, but explain some emotions and thought processes both John and Patsy must have felt since that fateful night, Christmas Eve 1996.
The audition-like take Kitty Green takes on the media-obsessed fascination of a pageant queen’s unsolved murder explores the notion of truth and shock as well as helping us – the viewers – understand what the personal internal feeling both John and Patsy Ramsey felt. However, the various unknowns interviewed for the lead roles also highlighted some interesting perspectives that had not been discussed in any other documentary or interview specials regarding the case – like one man’s description of the very real relationship between mind and body – in connection with Patsy Ramsey’s cause of death from ovarian cancer and her daughter’s death.
Kitty Green’s exploration and focus on both John and Patsy Ramsey deliver a less accusational-focus while eerily reminds us of the twisted truth that can disrupt the mind and body. While many of the male leads auditioning for John Ramsey spoke on his thought process – much of the discussion for both the male and female roles of John and Patsy explored Patsy’s internal unrest of how the death and case affected her. Including all the documentaries and interview specials surround the media’s fascination with the unsolved death of JonBenet Ramsey, this Netflix original paints a picture of the importance of the ever-constant search for truth.
Casting JonBenet was released April 28, 2017 on Netflix.