Anatomy Of A Murder

  1. Watch the movie: Anatomy of Murder 

    Which form of homicide is the theme of the movie? Summarize some of the arguments made in connection with the homicide.


“Anatomy of a Murder” is a classic courtroom drama film directed by Otto Preminger, released in 1959. The central theme of the movie revolves around the legal defense of a man accused of murder, specifically focusing on the form of homicide known as manslaughter.

In the film, Lt. Frederick Manion (played by Ben Gazzara) is accused of murdering a man who allegedly raped his wife, Laura (played by Lee Remick). The defense attorney, Paul Biegler (played by James Stewart), takes on the case, arguing that Manion was driven to commit the crime in a state of temporary insanity due to the emotional trauma of seeing his wife violated. Here are some of the arguments made in connection with the homicide:

  1. Self-Defense: The defense argues that Manion acted in self-defense and that the murder was a reaction to the immediate threat posed by the victim. Manion claims he found his wife distraught and bruised after the assault, and in a fit of rage, he confronted and ultimately killed the alleged rapist.
  2. Temporary Insanity: Biegler argues that Manion was not in a rational state of mind when he committed the murder. He presents evidence of Manion’s emotional distress and instability following the assault on his wife, suggesting that he was temporarily insane at the time of the killing.
  3. Provocation: The defense also highlights the emotional provocation experienced by Manion, emphasizing the extreme circumstances that led him to lash out in a moment of passion. Biegler paints a picture of a man driven to the brink by the violation of his wife and the subsequent breakdown of his mental faculties.
  4. Moral Ambiguity: Throughout the trial, the film explores the moral ambiguity surrounding the case. It questions whether Manion’s actions can be justified by the circumstances and whether the legal system should be lenient in cases of extreme emotional distress.

Overall, “Anatomy of a Murder” delves into complex legal and moral questions surrounding homicide, examining issues of justice, provocation, and the limits of personal responsibility in the face of traumatic events.

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