Like all good sports documentaries, ESPN's O.J.: Made In America is about so much more than sports. Of course to produce a documentary about O.J. Simpson it is necessary to veer off of the football pitch frequently.
Ezra Edelman directed the five part documentary for ESPN Films and their famous 30 for 30 series, and in a time when documentaries can feel over-long, and padded out, the level of detail and nuance weaved into the 7hr 47min runtime make the lengthy watch compelling in every moment.
Using interviews, news footage, and archival audio and video Edelman tells the story of O.J. Simpson, from his start as an up and coming American football star at the University of Southern California to his incarceration in 2007 for robbery.
That premise may seem like a simple rags to riches and back to rags again tale, but the role of race and celebrity in America during Simpson's rise and fall play a pivotal role in his life, and make for a fascinating glimpse into African American struggles in the US during the 90s.
Indeed when the documentary turns to the murders of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson and the subsequent 'Trial Of The Century', the importance of Simpson's ethnicity, (an ethnicity he once did not want to be known for), coupled with the racial tensions prevalent in American society at the time, combine to give rise to one of the most controversial and polarising moments in American history.
The series won best documentary at 89th Academy Awards in 2017, and if you ever have a spare weekend to yourself I would implore you to buy/stream/download this documentary and watch it, if you ever want to get a full picture of how O.J. Simpsons' life turned out the way it did.