On April 20, 1999, two outcasts swaggered through the halls and classrooms at Columbine High School and started shooting. Within minutes, twelve of their fellow students and one teacher were dead. The massacre continues to represent a source of profound national trauma, and it ushered in a distressing trend of school shootings that sadly endures to this day. "Murderous Minds: Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris" recounts the horrific events of that spring day, and attempts to uncover the motivations of its perpetrators.
The film opens by retracing each step taken by the teenaged boys during their murderous rampage. We come to know the names of each victim, the circumstances by which they were slaughtered, and the split second acts of fate that spared the lives of others. There are no staged reenactments in the film; all the archived photographs and school surveillance video footage is real. For this reason, the opening segment may prove too grisly and disturbing for some viewers.
The central focus of the film is the one question that lingers after every school shooting in America: why? In reality, this is likely an unanswerable riddle, but the film does a valiant job of illustrating the upbringing, public and private lives of both boys, and pinpointing the moments that may have constituted defining turns in their troubled psyches.
Their stories contain landmarks that many of us can recognize from our own adolescence. But Klebold and Harris dealt with the setbacks of romantic break ups and social awkwardness much differently than most. An obsession with weaponry and amateur bomb making, run-ins with law enforcement, untreated mental dysfunction, and disturbing online threats were eerie predictors of what was to come. The boys were guided by their fixation on the gruesome acts of terrorism that had preceded their own violent plot, including the Oklahoma City bombing.
The film calls upon a wealth of investigative materials, surprisingly intimate home movie clips, and harrowing accounts from friends and acquaintances to unfurl its terrifying narrative.
"Murderous Minds: Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris" is a well researched presentation that informs as much as it horrifies.