Monday

McCanns forthcoming documentary: Will the truth and the lie switch positions again?


There are three ways to find out about police cases in television fashion: either one arrives too late and the report has had time to be thought over, or one is on location while the action takes place, or one ‘dramatises’. In a dramatisation, the alleged crime is recreated in movie style and fiction is used to replace the reality of facts. This is an uncommon procedure on Portuguese television, and implies a conjunction of means (technical, financial, legal means and even unknown actors or stand-ins) that seldom takes place.

“The Truth of the Lie”, the recreation of the Maddie McCann case according to Gonçalo Amaral, was broadcast by TVI on Monday and showed how in Portugal some excellent results can be obtained from the knowledge of dramatisation work. “The Truth of the Lie” started out as a bestseller in bookstores. In his book, Gonçalo Amaral, the coordinator who was responsible for the investigation into the disappearance of little English girl Madeleine McCann in an Algarvian resort, wanted to “clean his honour” and that of the Polícia Judiciária and to open the doors for the re-opening of the process. Removed from the case by then PJ director Alípio Ribeiro, Amaral defends the theory that Maddie died accidentally on the night that she was announced as missing, and that the corpse was concealed by her parents.

The programme that was broadcast on the 13th by TVI, a Valentim de Carvalho production, gives a minute report of events and is convincing to the point of not leaving anyone in doubt, at least judging from the voxpopuli comments that were heard throughout the week.

The viewer is guided by Gonçalo Amaral himself to the various locations of the event, the evidence that solidifies the former inspector’s theory is lined up, experts speak and the notion that there was no failure in the investigation, but rather an “interruption in the investigation”, and that the political pressures (even at the British government level) were more than evident, is reinforced.

While Amaral lacks a ‘television posture’, to say the least, the programme impressed by its rhythm, the excellent editing of something that in less capable hands would be a scattered puzzle, and by the almost patronising defence, in the best of senses, that Amaral has reason on his side.

Now all that is left to do is to wait and watch the English dramatisation, which is soon to arrive on tv. Will the truth and the lie switch positions again?

source: Expresso, 18.04.2009, paper edition (‘Actual’ magazine)

* Television critic
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Translated by Joana Morais