Christmas Day 1929. Three months after the stock market crash that kick-started
the Great Depression, respected tobacco farmer Charlie Lawson brutally murdered
his wife and 6 of his 7 children before committing suicide; one of the most
horrible and mysterious mass murders in North Carolina history. The Charlie
Lawson murders became immortalized in a classic bluegrass murder ballad, ghost
stories, tours of the crime scene, and legends known coast to coast. The crime
remains one of the most horrible and mysterious mass murder/suicides the nation
had ever witnessed.
This documentary is actually more like three movies in one. The story begins
outlining the event and the legend that formed around it. There is discussion
around the role of telling and preserving tragic stories though music in this
area of the states as well as how family members exploited the story and how,
at one point, the murders were a sideshow attraction at fairgrounds.
The second story is the account of the events and people who knew the family.
This often-sad retelling shows us a family destroyed and the aftermath that
remains to today. The documentary explores a few possible theories but the
motives of Charlie Lawson remain mysterious even today.
The finally part is a discussion of domestic violence and the toll it took
on this family as well as another family featured in the film. The film production
company is also donating a percentage of all proceeds from the video to domestic
violence agencies in the North Carolina area.
The movie was very interesting and for anyone familiar with the story, it
explores the mystery thoroughly and gives a balanced analysis. My only complaint
was that the story was a little uneven during the last third of the movie.
I would recommend this documentary for anyone interested in more information
about this crime and also for anyone who wants to see an example of how society
handles a tragic event and how these events become, for better or worse, part
of popular culture though song and story.
Check out the website for further information: www.bodproductions.com.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Kevin Einarson is the publisher of Spinetingler Magazine. His short
fiction has appeared in Mouth
Full of Bullets, Flashing in the Gutters and Spinetingler.
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2007 SPINETINGLER Magazine - All rights reserved