Flashback Film – Zodiac (2007)

A sketch of the Zodiac killer based on witness...

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Zodiac – Made in 2007, based on events in 1969 and 1970 and on.

This is one that I think is worth watching. The details of this docu-drama based on the actual case are quite accurate, down to the ads on the radio. I was a little kid when this was going on. The Zodiac became the Bay Area‘s real life boogeyman. Kids told stories based on the information they did get (which was not always a lot). My parents sheltered me from some of the details.

My connections to the movie are moderate but made it hard to not watch it without self-awareness. Jim Dunbar, who takes the Zodiac Killer’s call on the morning show on KGO (ABC affiliate) television, was also a KGO radio host. I remember one Christmas (I think it was 1973) he was very depressed and asked callers to call him and cheer him up. I was almost ten, and decided to sing “Oh Christmas Tree” for him. It took about 20 minutes on hold before I got on. I was on the phone, my mom listened to the radio in the next room. So, I sang it, forgot a few of the words. My mom told me that “I really cheered him up”. She may just have been saying that because she was my mom. But that was my singing debut on radio. I sang on radio a couple more times, but it was in the context of comedy sketches on college radio.

Also, I once worked with Robert Graysmith‘s oldest son (at a video store, no less) about twenty years after the events of the film. He is portrayed as the kid who Graysmith takes off the bus and drives to school, as he knows the threats to school buses the Zodiac has made. I have never met Graysmith, but the casting of Gyllenhall seems perfect, as he has very similar piercing blue eyes to the real life son of the cartoonist.

Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote about that its accuracy makes the film fall a bit flat and that the cinematic qualities lose out to this adherence to detail. Point well taken, but I still think it is worth watching, especially if you want a film that perfectly captures an historic moment, that rings true for at least one person who remembers the time and place.

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