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Capturing the Friedmans
Capturing the Friedmans
Actors: Arnold Friedman, Jesse Friedman, David Friedman, Elaine Friedman, Seth Friedman
Director: Andrew Jarecki
Genres: Documentary, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2004     1hr 47min

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, and with over $3 million at the box office to date, Capturing The Friedmans is nothing short of the most riveting, provocative, and hotly debated films of ...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: Arnold Friedman, Jesse Friedman, David Friedman, Elaine Friedman, Seth Friedman
Director: Andrew Jarecki
Creators: Adolfo Doring, Andrew Jarecki, Jaye Nydick, Jennifer Rogen, Marc Smerling, Peter Bove, Richard Hankin
Genres: Documentary, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Biography, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: HBO Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 01/27/2004
Original Release Date: 01/01/2003
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2003
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 47min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 4
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Member Movie Reviews

Sarah F. (Ferdy63) from DALTON, GA
Reviewed on 6/8/2008...
Abslutely engrossing film about the true story of the Friedman family and its disintegration after allegations of multiple child sex abuse charges made against the Father and youngest Son. Includes a DVD with additional material on the family and the case. The family, esp. the oldest son, are home movie fanatics and much of the story is told thru their own home movies which were made before, during and after the arrest and trial. It's one of those stories, like the murder of JonBenet or the McMartin case, that is so compelling you can't stop watching. At one moment, you believe the accusers and at another, you sympathize with the defendants. I highly recommend this movie!
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Absolutely riveting!!
RMurray847 | Albuquerque, NM United States | 07/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If the Friedman's hadn't been obsessed with capturing their own lives on 8mm (and video tape and audio tape), this riveting documentary wouldn't exist. I won't rehash the case under scrutiny here, except to say that it is pretty lurid, and absolutely not for children to be hearing about and watching.The amazing thing about the film is that while we are presented with the "facts" of the case, we realize that we're seeing a sort of real life Rashomon. Everyone has their version of events,and as each version is peeled away, we become angry at a different person and sympathetic for someone we never thought we'd feel sympathy for.For example, at one point we hear the "testimony" of one of the victim's of the molestation. He gets our sympathy, naturally. Later, when we his interviewed some more and we know a little more about the case, extreme doubt is cast on his story and we begin to feel suspicious towards the investigators. But, just as we might begin leaning towards believing in the innocence of the Friedmans, another bombshell is dropped on us. Towards the end, we really don't know who to believe. It's frustrating not to know anything for sure, but by God, I bet no one leaves this movie not ready to spend a lot of time talking about it and running over it in their heads. It is the most satisfying frustration you can have.The movie is also a fascinating study of the disintegration of a dysfunctional family. We see the collapse right in front of us, and we see its aftermath many years later. Wow! It's simply amazing to witness the things that were capture by the Friedmans.The movie is occasionally funny, often aggravating, often strong enough to make our blood boil or run cold...but it is never, ever dull. Truly a wonderful review I've read captures the unusual power of this film. IT'S A MUST SEE FOR ADULTS!!!!"
My fingernails are bitten down to the nub!
Diane Moore | 07/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I walked into this documentary not knowing much about the Friedmans, as I was younger when this story surfaced. This high tension story kept me locked in and stressed out!It always starts the same: the perfect, upper middle-class family. Arnold and Elaine Friedman have three sons: David, Seth, and Jesse. He is an award winning teacher and well liked in the small community. Everything seems great from the outside. But, somehow, a lead to Arnold Friedman stems from some child pornography being traded through the mail, and that led to finding more about this "happy" family. From then on, it was alleged that Arnold Friedman and his youngest son Jesse, then 18, were molesting boys in their basement during computer classes that Arnold taught. It goes back and forth over the years. Many of the videos were shot by the Friedmans, as the father and sons were interested in using video cameras for their own entertainment. They all seemed to have a similar sense of humor, and were always joking around with each other. The sons seemed to be each others best friends. As the movie goes on, you become more and more aware of who is going to be there for whom. Enter Elaine Friedman. I had such deep sympathy for this woman. Yes, she had problems of her own. But, to have something like this happen to her family, and then, have her sons constantly gang up on her. There also seemed to be a lack of boundries within the family, as Elaine and Arnold briefly touched on their relationship in front of their sons. What I thought was a little strange: At one point, around the time that Arnold was going to court: they practically filmed their own documentary. They were talking about the case on camera. It's as if their lives centered around their video camera. I constantly found myself wondering, "Did they, or didn't they?" Unfortunately, I didn't get this question answered. I think that everyone is supposed to find their own answers. There was plenty of information through interviews with Arnold's brother, Jesse's lawyer, Elaine, David, and there was also some insight given to Arnold's childhood, and his kids memories as well. The thing is: the story is so balanced as to the people who thought it happened, and to those who thought it didn't. It's possible that your opinion could be biased after watching it, but overall, whether or not it happened, I was sure of one thing. Arnold Friedman had a very definite problem and needed help. Pedophilia is a disease that destroys people, and it destroyed Arnold Friedman and his family."
Haunting and Powerful
S. Herbertson | 03/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Having being drawn to recent documentary features such as Spellbound, I took a chance on Andrew Jarecki's 'Capturing the Friedmans', having heard and read little about it. It is, without a doubt, one of the most compelling and troubling films I have ever seen. I won't re-hash the story as other reviewers have done that already, but would urge you to buy this film. Once the main feature is over you are desperate for more information, more clues and the second disc in the set goes some way to satiating that need.
The beauty of the film, expressed by Jarecki in both his commentary and in a Charlie Rose interview, is that it finally provides - albeit too late - the fair trial that the Friedmans should have been granted. Whatever the 'truth' of the story is, and we may never really know, the prejudice that was brought to bear on the case by the police, judiciary, the community and the media made it impossible for this most complicated family to be accorded their constitutional rights. We, the audience, are the jury now. Jarecki provides both prosecution and defence cases and we are left to decide the guilt.
Quite apart from the compelling material, which makes this film so much more thrilling than any Hollywood drama of recent memory, the film is beautifully shot. Jarecki exposes evidence carefully so that just when you feel that your mind is made up something is thrown in that broadsides you. Andrea Morricone's beautiful music is the perfect accompaniment to the anguish that the viewer feels throughout this painful quest for the 'truth'. The film's website ( a worthy partner to the film with some unheard audio footage, and is well worth visiting.
This is not quite an enjoyable film - the material too uncomfortable for that - but it is one that should be seen. Make sure you watch it with someone as all you will want to do afterwards is discuss it - and then you'll want to watch it again."