December 6th 1995.
Its just over 20 years since three men were gunned down in a Range Rover vehicle in a country lane at Rettendon, Essex. Whilst the actual crime would have taken only seconds. The blasts from that night have echoed not only through the years, but also through the film world. Nine films (so far) have touched upon various levels (and various angles) of the Range Rover Murders (as they became known.) Essex Boys (2000), Rise of the Foot Soldier (2007),Bonded by Blood (2010),The Fall of the Essex Boys (2013),Essex Boys: Retribution (2013), Essex Boys: Law of Survival (2015), The Hit (2015), Bonded By Blood 2 (2015), and Rise Of The Footsoldier Part 2 (2015) all take us into the world of the Essex Boys crime world. Some of them focusing fully on the story, some of them just touching upon it briefly.
But which films give us the accurate information? Some of them? All of them? Who knows. Its so easy to think ‘oh not another Essex Boys film’ which is a line I have seen pretty often this year, but lets remember that for some reason people find these stories and these people (real people, not just scripted characters) fascinating and if people didn’t watch the films, then the filmmakers wouldn’t make them.
Other than Rise Of The Footsoldier Part 2, and Bonded By Blood 2. (both of which aren’t on release yet, but soon) I have seen all the other films in the list and all are watchable and enjoyable and interesting. Do I think that one of them is more accurate than the others. I honestly don’t know and I honestly don’t really think about it. I didn’t know the real life people, and have never visited that world or directly spoken to people who knew them. I havent read any books on the subject so for me the films are sort of entertainment. I say sort of entertainment because I never forget that they are based on real events that happened to real people with families and so its less popcorn movie and more gritty realism.
This evening I watched a new take on the Essex Boys world. What made it different? Well it wasn’t a scripted film, it was a documentary
Essex Boys:The Truth
Written and Presented by Bernard O’Mahoney
Its very strange to be watching a documentary focusing on the Essex Boys, I have gotten so used to seeing the real people involved in the case like Pat Tate, played by Craig Fairbrass(Rise Of The Footsoldier) , Peter Barrett (The Fall Of The Essex Boys), or Tamer Hassan (Bonded By Blood) or the real Tony Tucker being played by Terry Stone (Bonded By Blood) or Jay Brown (The Fall Of The Essex Boys) . Its a serious reminder that they are real people when watching this documentary to see real photos of the real face, and to hear friends of theirs talking about how they grew up. Very surreal.
The documentary begins with a lengthy segment on the after effects of the 1995 killings, taking us into stories and witness accounts of the power struggle following the deaths. We hear and see crime scene photos of incidents that carried on way beyond 1995 and into the following century. Although I wasn’t familiar with any of the names of this ‘next generation’ it was still an interesting watch although the use of crime scene photos does make you cringe and feel uncomfortable at times. This documentary isn’t for faint hearted viewers. It does use some recreations (for obvious reasons) to enhance some of the story telling, but you can easily tell which parts are real footage and which parts have been recreated. The documentary crew don’t try to palm this new footage off as ‘real’ and it works very well at keeping the pace going rather than just have people talking to a camera for thirty seconds.
But then we get to the main part of the documentary, what actually happened in the run up to the 1995 killings, who were the people in that world? Who had motive to kill and ….well you should watch it yourself to learn more. Its all highly interesting and does fill in a lot of the back story to make the films about the subject more interesting when you rewatch them. The two hour doc very much helps give an added dimension to it all.
However whilst the documentary is very interesting piece of work. Do I without a doubt know who did what and why? That’s the question isn’t it. But I most certainly felt that the two hour documentary was worth viewing. Its hard to say that watching something about true crime where real people were hurt (not just the victims in the Range Rover) can be an enjoyable watch. So I need to choose my words carefully.
Essex Boys The Truth is out on demand and DVD & e-book.
You can order the DVD using the Amazon Link