Film: Murder at Harvard (The American Experience)
In November 1849, Dr. George Parkman, one of Boston’s richest citizens, suddenly disappeared. The police conducted an extensive search of the city and dredged the Charles River. Parkman had last been seen walking towards the Harvard Medical College. The Medical School’s janitor, Ephraim Littlefield, who had a suspicion where Parkman might be found, spent two grueling nights tunneling beneath a basement laboratory looking for clues. What he discovered horrified Boston and led to one of the most sensational trials in American history.
Inspired by a book by historian Simon Schama, Murder at Harvard uses drama and documentary to re-examine this grisly episode. Schama plays a key role in the film as a “time-traveling” detective who puts himself in the place of the story’s central characters, trying to uncover the “truth” behind the case. Weighing and sifting the evidence, he probes the lingering mysteries of this notorious trial and the larger philosophical question of how we can ever know what happened in the past.
This film is a mystery documentary.