(director: Ezra Edelman; cinematographer: Nick Higgins; editors: Bret Granaro/Maya Mumma/Ben Sozanski; music: Gary Lionelli; Runtime: 467; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Ezra Edelman/Caroline Waterlow/Connor Schell; Laylow Films; 2016)

An aesthetic and comprehensive 7 1/2-hour documentary on an American hero turned bad.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An aesthetic and comprehensive 7 1/2-hour documentary on an American hero turned bad. Director Ezra Edelman (“Magic and Bird”) and the producers of ESPN’s 30 for 30 take a long detailed look, starting in the 1960s, at the rise and fall of sports icon-turned-accused murderer and current prison felon O.J. Simpson. It portends to be the ultimate cultural tale of America as to outlining the divide between the races, America’s love affair with celebrity, police violence and crime in the black community, and the workings of the criminal justice system in LA. In the polarizing figure of O.J. we revisit his poverty childhood days in San Francisco, his legendary football glory days at USC and then in the pros with the Buffalo Bills, the charges of domestic abuse in his second marriage and the 1995 trial of the century that was charged with racism. It shows significant archival footage (like the 1965 Watts riot) and interviews with more than seventy people associated with O.J., and provides a fascinating look back at the events that shaped his life. What emerges is a haunting look at both O.J. and America, and how unsettling the country still is in regards to race relations. In Part 2, the film examines the giant ego of the star and how fame and fortune came his way when corporate America gave him their approval to be their sponsorship spokesman (like for Hertz) and that he leaves his hometown black first wife and marries his blonde mistress Nicole Brown. The documentary argues that O.J. made himself white and was successful in becoming accepted by mainstream America as its hero, that is, until the night of June 12, 1994, when his wife Nicole Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman were murdered and the black jurors rallied around him in the face of the LAPD’s racist cops doing the investigation.O.J. might be old news, but his compelling story still resonates in a modern America still wrestling with its imperfect past in regards to race relations.