This one will probably make you mad…

An Unreal Dream is a documentary that will probably make you mad—and it should.  After all, in a free society, huge miscarriages of justice should not happen … right?!  Well, that should be the case but it certainly wasn’t with Michael Morton.  Back in the 1980s, Morton’s wife was savagely murdered as she was stabbed 19 times.  There was little in the way of real evidence to show who the killer was at the time and in this case the prosecution didn’t look very far or very hard.  After all, often the husbands are the assailants and in Morton’s case, it was just assumed he was guilty.  On top of that, some of the jurors they interviewed were incredibly stupid and clearly did not follow the guidelines set for them. Some said that Morton was convicted because he ‘didn’t prove he didn’t do it’! What about the concept of innocent until proven guilty?!

An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story
Directed by
Al Reinert, John Dean, Nellie Gonzalez
Narrated by
Nellie Gonzalez
Release Date
5 December 2014
Martin’s Grade: A

Others said that although the evidence was scant, he looked and acted like he killed her.  How was this?  Well, apparently, Michael didn’t look sad enough during the trial—a sure indication of his guilt!!  However, it does get worse…much worse.  After spending about 25 years in prison, his defense team was able to learn the truth behind the prosecution—and the truth sure wasn’t pretty!  What was the truth?  Well, I won’t say as it would spoil the film but suffice to say that the prosecutor ended up losing his license, being removed from the bench (he had become a judge in the meantime) and was given prison time himself!!  So what is the rest of this story?  See this captivating film yourself to find out what exactly happened.

Why did I like this film so much?  Well, part of it was learning about the system’s rush to judgment but most of it was because the filmmakers did such a thorough and effective job in presenting the story.  They were able to tell Morton’s story but not in a superficial way.  You learn about him as a man—his religious conversion in prison, his ruined relationship with his son as well as how he coped with all those years in a hellish prison.  It makes for incredibly compelling viewing.  What also made this worth seeing is that like the best documentaries, this one struck an emotional chord.  You cannot watch this film without getting mad or feeling sorry for the guy…or both!  And, fortunately, it does have a happy ending or sorts—though nothing can give the man back 25 years of his life.  Well worth your time and if you do see it, don’t be surprised when you see Morton for the first time—he looks a lot like George W. Bush with a little bit of James Caan thrown in to boot.  I am not kidding about this!

Review by Lead Entertainment Writer & Film Critic, Martin Hafer