Let’s not twist our hearts if we say that over the past five years, investigative documentaries have become more popular than artistic statements on the same topic, from the TV series “Making A Murder” (2015) to the recent “Tiger King” – these tapes awakened in the audience an appetite for the genre of documentaries about criminals. But in fact, this genre has much more to offer than a set of archival frames and short interviews. Namely, real art, a different view of acute social problems. Here is a list of 15 excellent films based on real criminal events – from the middle of the last century to the present day.

F for Fake, 1973

Orson Welles’ latest work is a postmodern pseudo-documentary drama inspired by the work of French New Wave directors. In the center of the plot is Elmir de Hori, a talented artist who skillfully forges famous paintings. In this work, Wells raises the question – can the fraudster be more talented than the original author?

The Untouchables, 1987

This masterpiece by Brian De Palma shows the story of the confrontation between agent Eliot Ness and gangster Al Capone, whose clandestine production of alcohol brings the mafia fabulous profits. At first, the director invited actor Bob Hoskins to the role of Capone – but he refused, but Robert De Niro agreed to play the role of the mafia leader. Delighted by this turn of events, De Palma sent Hoskins a check for $20,000, thanking him for his refusal. Hoskins called back, “Do you have any other movies in your plans that I don’t want to do?”

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Texas Chainsaw Saw Massacre, 1974

Perhaps the most important film of the American grindhouse of the 1970s, a genre of low-budget cinema that exploits the theme of violence. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre partially quotes the biography of the real killer and cemetery vandal Ed Green. Despite conflicting critical ratings and a ban on distribution in several theaters, the film became one of the most profitable in the genre, collecting more than $30 million with a budget of $140 thousand.

Once upon a time in… Hollywood, 2019

In the foreground of the film by Quentin Tarantino is the story of an actor who has lost popularity, self-esteem, and suffering from alcoholism: he tries to return to the big cinema, enlisting the support of his friend and permanent understudy. In the background are the terrible events committed in California by the gang of Charles Manson in 1969.

Wastelands, 1973

The plot of the debut film by Terrence Malik is based on the true story of Charles Starkweather and his girlfriend Caryl Fugate, who committed a series of murders in Nebraska in 1958. Today, “Wasteland” is a classic of neo-noir and one of the most influential films in the last 50 years: in 1993, the tape was included in the “National Register of Outstanding Films” and placed in storage in the Library of Congress.

In Cold Blood, 1967

In 1967, Richard Brooks’ film based on the novel of the same name by Truman Capote blurred the lines between feature and documentary films and had since been considered a classic of the “new realism.” Capote’s book was written based on a real crime: two tramps kill a family of four, hearing that they are holding a large sum of money in the house – and go on the run.

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Munich, 2005

A frank and provocative work by Steven Spielberg, telling about the revenge of Mossad employees to terrorists responsible for the murder of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972. Despite five Oscar nominations and critical acclaim, Munich remains one of Spielberg’s worst works, but the true story behind the film’s plot is worth watching.

Spotlight, 2015

At first glance, the “best film” of the Oscar ceremony in 2016, at first glance, is not as cruel as the other listed tapes. However, he recounts chilling events: an attempt by the Boston Globe to expose a network of child molesters operating with impunity under cover of the Roman Catholic Church. The real journalistic material that formed the basis of the film won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003.

Bonnie and Clyde, 1967

A film that changed the American film industry forever. Based on real events, the film tells about perhaps the most famous pair of robbers in history that terrorized Central America during the Great Depression. “Bonnie and Clyde” violated all the rules of cinema that existed in the 1960s and gave rise to a new era of Hollywood.

Monster, 2003

It’s hard to recognize Charlize Theron as roadside prostitute Eileen Warnos, who became a serial killer. Director and screenwriter Patty Jenkins’ debut drama shows how the mental state of Warnos, who suffers from a borderline personality disorder, deteriorates as she commits increasingly brutal murders. Legendary film critic Roger Ebert called Charlize Theron’s performance in this film “one of the greatest in the history of cinema.”

M, 1931

Fritz Lang’s acclaimed masterpiece tells the story of a serial killer of children and at the same time sheds light on eternal social problems: poor parenting of the child, abuse of power by politicians, and irresponsibility of the police apparatus.

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Can you ever forgive me?, 2018

The film adaptation of the memoirs of the writer Lee Israel, who admitted to forging the letters of famous writers due to stagnation in her career and lack of money. Actress Melissa McCartney brilliantly played a misanthropic writer who fell into a cycle of lies due to unwillingness (and inability) to part with popularity.

A Man Escaped, 1956

This classic French film is based on André Devigny and tells the story of a member of the French resistance who tries to escape from a Nazi prison during World War II. It is an exciting, beautifully shot, touching picture that looks fresh today, almost 64 years after its release.

Goodfellas, 1990

In the 1980s, it might have seemed like Martin Scorsese was losing his grip. He proved that this was not the case, already in the early 1990s, when he returned to the streets of Little Italy. “Goodfellas” — a timeless, endlessly cited gangster drama with exemplary actors — proved that Scorsese still has trump cards up his sleeve.

In the Realm of the Senses, 1976

From the moment of its release until now, “In the Realm of the Senses” is censored and becomes the subject of disputes about what is allowed in the cinema. Japanese erotic drama tells the real story of the geisha Sada Abe, who inadvertently strangled her elderly lover, went mad, and cut off his genitals. An unliving, despising taboo story is a real art of cinema, which will not appeal to every viewer.


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