The paradigmatic case of Ted Bundy
Death penalty. Last April, the recurring issue of the death penalty in neighboring Texas, USA, against Melisa Lucio, a citizen of Hispanic origin convicted of the murder of one of her 15 children, a two-year-old girl, resurfaced. Her public defenders and her Democratic legislators have achieved the suspension, postponement and possible reopening of the case, reiterating her innocence and contesting her confession to mental torture in police interrogation. Her fate rests in the hands of the seven members of the Board of Pardons and in the last word of Republican Governor Greg Abbot, whom President Joe Biden has called “a Neanderthal.”
NETFLIX. Coincidentally, in the modern and addictive option of well-used cinematographic culture, the Netflix platform, offers us university teachers and students of behavioral sciences and social communication (Psychology, Law, Criminology, Criminalistics, Penitentiary D., D. Compared) another version of the paradigmatic case of Ted Bundy, the serial killer convicted and executed in the electric chair on January 24, 1989.
TED BUNDY. Theodore Robert Bundy (born Cowell, November 24, 1946 – January 24, 1989), American serial killer. After more than a decade in denial, he confessed to 30 murders of women, in seven states, between 1974 and 1978. The actual number is unknown. He applied and with good grades at the Universities of Washington and Puget Sound (Tacoma), getting a degree in Psychology. He worked in various places without lasting long. In 1967 he fell in love with Stephanie Brooks (Dayanne’s pseudonym), from a wealthy family; It was Bundy’s dream come true, but two years later she graduated in Psychology and ended the relationship, considering that her partner was indiscreet and lacked clear goals. Bundy never got over her breakup and became obsessed with her, keeping in touch through letters to try to win her back.
He dropped out for a time and returned to the University of Washington to enroll in law, considered a brilliant student and esteemed among his professors. He began a five-year relationship with Elizabeth Kloepfer (pseudonym for Meg Anders), who was divorced and had a young daughter. However, Kloepfer was unaware that he had been dating a girl from San Francisco, Ca., with whom he continued to write letters.
During 1969 and 1972 all went well: he applied to law schools and was involved in community activities. He earned a Seattle Police Award for saving a three-year-old boy from drowning; he was associated with important figures of the Republican Party. Everything changed in 1973, when he was reunited with Brooks, she maintained a relationship that lasted between the summer and winter of that same year. In the end, Bundy left her without her ever hearing from him again.
THE MOVIE. It is based on a script in which the killer develops a strange and complicated relationship with FBI agent Bill Hagmaier while detailing his heinous crimes. Directed by Amber Sealey (How to Cheat), the film does not show the violent acts of Bundy (Luke Kirby). On the contrary: the psychopath is at his most vulnerable, in jail and about to be executed for his death sentence. That’s when agent Bill Hagmaier (Elijah Wood) arrives, who has two missions: first, ask for Bundy’s help to understand the crimes that were occurring in the United States and, later, try to get him to confess.
It premiered on August 27, 2021 (United States). Cinematography: Karina Silva and Casting Directors: Amber Horn and Danielle Aufiero.
On death row, Ted Bundy agrees to reveal the details of his crimes, but only to one man. It is the true story of the relationship that developed between the two, as the agent delves into the dark and twisted mind of Bundy. Ted Bundy is not just a psychopath. He has become a boogeyman (El coco) and an evil legend. After all, regardless of the number of deaths that followed his existence, the American gave off charm, beauty and friendliness. Today, more than any other psychopath, he has become the subject of books, series, documentaries and more than five fiction films. However, none have put the psychopath in his rightful place like “Ted Bundy: The Final Confession” (the original title is No man of god), which premiered on streaming.
And it is precisely at this moment in history where it begins. Thus, unlike what is seen in “Ted Bundy: Sleeping with the killer”, which places the criminal as a kind of irresistible heartthrob, Amber Sealey’s feature film humanizes him. And by humanizing him, his line of thought is clearer, the hatred that he drags and the manipulation. Kirby strips away the vanity and reduces the brightness. The concern here is not to deify the murderer.
This, curiously, was gradually born in the feature film. Amber was called by her agent to do the film and began to convince Luke to get on board. “After reading the script, I met with Amber in a park in Los Angeles. We had a fantastic meeting. It was a long, weird conversation where I talked about all my concerns,” Luke Kirby tells Filmelier. “A day later, the US imposed a quarantine due to covid-19.”
With that, everything stopped, static, without prospects. Until they began to adapt the script to the needs that arose due to social distancing due to covid. “Ted Bundy: The Final Confession” has become, more and more, a talk show. On the other hand, Luke Kirby was still worrying about him, but preparing to become Bundy on screen. “We did the necessary investigative work. That was challenging and it turned my stomach.”
Demystifying Ted Bundy. Soon, it was time to shoot. Amber says that she was concerned precisely not to romanticize or deify this character. “I was worried about that. I didn’t see him as a romantic character, but as a pathetic and insecure incel”, says the filmmaker. “I chose Luke for the film because he is a great actor. And then I realized that Luke was more charming. I was worried about Luke. He is charming, handsome. I asked him to tone it down a bit. [risas]”.
According to her, one of the main points in arriving at Bundy’s non-romanticization was also understanding who the character was and demystifying him. “I don’t see Bundy as this genius. Of course he was above average in intelligence, he knew a lot about crimes and how to commit them. But I think the main characteristic of him was the insecurity, the need, the desperation to be respected, ”says the director. “I preferred to focus on that, since it was all there, in the real conversations.”
That was, then, the difference that Amber found in front of the sea of content that surrounds him. “I think there are too many Ted Bundy movies out there? Yes. Did I make one more? Yes. I am guilty, but that is what it is,” she says.
In the wave of “true crime”, this whole movement, by the way, does not come out of nowhere. Talking about true crimes has gained strength in recent years, as documentary series have enjoyed prominence on streaming platforms, as was the case with “Tiger King”, “Don’t Fuck With Cats” and the documentary series on “Bundy, Conversations with Murderers”: Ted Bundy’s tapes, which uses, precisely, those of police officers (including Hagmaier) with the American psychopath.
However, “Ted Bundy: The Final Confession” is almost a post-truth crime. A negation of these productions. While exposing the criminal, the film puts the logic of the investigation, the mind and humanizes everything. Despite Luke Kirby’s initial reluctance to participate in the feature film, it is interesting to note how the film has thus become a continuation of everything the actor thinks about, including successful productions and so-called “true crime”.
“This scares me a lot,” says the actor, from the “true crime” movement. “I think there is something about people who enjoy being in danger, wondering who is behind this crime, things like that. I have no idea how this can be so successful. It’s not what I consume, but [este movimiento] it is fascinating”.
“I’m not crazy,” the killer says all the while, staring at FBI Special Agent Bill Hagmaier, the one receiving the “final confession.”
One of the things that this film demystifies Ted Bundy is precisely Ted Bundy, that serial killer, with the face of a rocker, who received photographs of naked women every day in prison, for which he obtained the sympathy of the other prisoners and who tries to bring the people who are by his side into his dark universe.
Between 1974 and 1978, Bundy kidnapped, raped, and murdered numerous young women and girls. He received three death sentences for the 1978 Florida murders of Kimberly Dianne Leach, 12, Lisa Levy, 20, and Margaret Elizabeth Bowman, 21, and was executed on January 24, 1989.
The film “Ted Bundy: The Final Confession” is based on the actual transcripts of the death row interviews between Hagmaier and Bundy, which took place during the four years prior to their execution. They also include Hagmaier’s personal recollections and his own writings.
It is curious because one begins to wonder what is reality, what is fiction, because in the documentary about Bundy, the murderer had not been as clear and naked as in this film where the former Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood makes a exceptional role. He leaves Bundy without his arguments, even though he manipulates him on a few occasions, but he keeps looking into his eyes and when he tells one of his crimes, he cries, which makes him so different. to the predator.
Elijah Wood is an admirable actor, not only has he managed to detach himself from The Lord of the Rings, but he has chosen with more or less luck those small films, where his acting quality shines. In “Ted Bundy: The Final Confession” everything goes through his huge and expressive eyes, which allow you to go beyond that character of the murderer and go see him as a naked person, without values, not crazy of course, but a psychopath.
Luckily for director Amber Sealey, the actor who plays Leeny Bruce (not an easy role) in Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, said yes.
“Everyone has their own taste. This type of material is certainly the kind of thing that has more than just a “yuck” factor. It has a creep factor and I mean the character specifically, because I know the story, written big, is bigger than that,” Kirby said.
Amber Sealey is British and one of the things that worried her was precisely deifying Ted Bundy: “I was worried about that. I didn’t see him as a romantic character, but as a pathetic and insecure incel. I chose Luke for the film because he is a great actor. And then I realized that Luke was more charming. I was worried about Luke. He is charming, handsome. I asked him to tone it down a bit. [risas]”, says the filmmaker in an interview with Matheus Man, the director of Filmelier.
She also became very good friends with Hagmaier. She would call him and ask, ‘How does this feel?’ She might ask him about the emotional stuff, the family stuff, and then all the way to, ‘What color belts would you wear?’
Hector Rodriguez Espinoza