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Staircase [DVD] [1998] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

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Region 1 encoding. (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats)
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Staircase [DVD] [1998] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] + Murder On a Sunday Morning [DVD] [2001]
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Product details

  • Directors: Jean-Xavier de Lestrade
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Colour, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: NR (Not Rated) (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: New Video Group
  • DVD Release Date: 6 Dec 2011
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,438 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Vella on 10 Mar 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The story of Michael Peterson and the death of his wife is a compelling story. Lestrade has followed the case and the defendant along with his legal team for the build up to trial and the trial.

Very well managed and directed, we get to experience the case and the significance of the evidence in what I consider an unbiased manner. The verdict is not predictable, with the story building to a crescendo.

Well worth investing the time to watch
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 12 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A Compelling Documentary Miniseries: A Slanted, But Compelling, Peak Behind The Legal Curtains 17 Nov 2011
By K. Harris - Published on
Format: DVD
When Jean-Xavier de Lestrade's comprehensive, problematic, and strangely exhilarating documentary miniseries "The Staircase" premiered on the Sundance Channel in 2004, I sat transfixed for all eight episodes. It is certainly a program that has stayed with me through the years, and I even survived the 2007 Lifetime network obligatory ripped-from-the-headlines interpretation "The Staircase Murders." Having been unavailable on DVD for some time, I'm glad to see it being reissued as this is surely one of the more fascinating examples of documentary filmmaking that you're likely to encounter. Lestrade, an Oscar winner for "Murder on a Sunday Morning," took on the 2001 highly publicized murder trial of author Michael Peterson to unravel the follies and foibles of the legal system. I saw an interview with Lestrade in which he claimed that once he met the larger-than-life Peterson, the direction the documentary would take started to formulate itself. And that's easy to believe, Peterson is a character you can't tear your eyes away from.

I have heard "The Staircase" decried as both a masterpiece and as irresponsible trash. It tends to elicit a very strong reaction as the piece itself, and Lestrade's point of view, seem pretty well substantiated. Does he feel Peterson was innocent of orchestrating the murder of his wife? It certainly seems that he does. And yet despite this obvious slant, the film itself won't necessarily make you a believer. Further research into actual events, should you be interested, also lead one to see that certain principle evidence vital to convicting Peterson gets little play in the documentary. But I don't think establishing guilt or innocence has anything to do with the brilliance of "The Staircase." Perhaps that's a controversial position, but the truths it does document are almost as frightening as any murder investigation. The movie allows its cast to create their own portraits, and this character study is as compelling and riveting as any fictional drama.

Peterson is a chilling and complicated persona whose very demeanor might make one leery. Others in the Peterson family are oddly vacant, others poised for vengeance. As presented, the prosecution's case becomes so extravagant and improbable--it's hard not to imagine a reasonable doubt acquittal. They so single-mindedly pile every strategy into the mix (a previous murder, fictional writing, sexuality, and other oddball theories). To watch the defense formulate plans about how they wish to build a rebuttal is never less than fascinating. But most interesting is how everything is just a construction, defense and prosecution. The truth seemingly is the least of anyone's concern when building a case. What's real? What's relevant? And does it matter?

This is, after all, the justice system at work. In this case, the trial was overcome by prejudices and pre-conceived notions. Guilt or innocence? I know what I believe after having researched this case in various venues. But, in the long run, Lestrade's film does more than just document a trial. It plays as grand theater and, thus, as an insightful and harrowing look into the jurisprudence system--it is almost essential viewing. Slanted? Biased? Sure. Fascinating? Disturbing? Absolutely. Definitely recommended to anyone with a special interest in the actual workings of a contemporary legal system--warts and all. About 4 1/2 stars. KGHarris, 11/11.

BONUS FEATURES: Step By Step: The Making of THE STAIRCASE; Filmmaker Insights; Filmmaker Biographies; Michael Peterson Follow-Up Interview; Limited Edition Illustrated Booklet; 30 Minutes of Never-Before-Seen Family Interviews.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The Stair Case 9 Feb 2012
By Syas Nomis - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I found this eight-part series intriguing. As the story unfolds, mainly through the eyes of the accused, author Michael Peterson and his defense team, the more fascinating it becomes. Did his wife fall down the stairs or did he kill her? As more and more information is uncovered, fact really does seem stranger than fiction. I couldn't wait for each episode on TV.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Well told 1 Jan 2014
By bob locker - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Bought this for xmas, and we watched it straight thru. Insider's look at the trial mostly from the perspective of the defense. A very odd story that is still ongoing....
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The Absolute, Total, Top Shelf, Perfect Viewing Experience - The Very Best I have Ever Seen, Bar None 13 Mar 2012
By T. F. Meehan - Published on
Format: DVD
This is the very best of any viewing experience Of my life. Another outstanding experience was the 'Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes' documentary about subtle and pernicious black racism, a brilliantly compelling dock that really shakes you up, and guided by a equally brilliant facilitator, a true expert, who gave astounding insights and examples that confronted you extraordinarily. The Staircase Murder was different, it was another viewing for the sheer complete drama and entertainment it gave me; but to me it was perfect; Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes tested you, showed you how racism was displayed, and alarmed you about what prejudice can do to someone, how nasty, how destructive it was to black people, how it could totally ruin and destroy self esteem of not just a young and frail person, but an adult, any adult. - it was absolute top self viewing. Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes was close to The Staircase for a top viewing, but the Staircase Murder was truly 'complete entertainment', it was consummately directed by Le Strade, it is a masterpiece as the back cover of the DVD says. I do agree.
The Staircase Murder is panoramic - you get real entertainment here - drama, intrigue, interspersed with humour; you get 'more of a lot of things' here. You see actual footage of a murder trial, including many close ups of the alleged murderer, his children, his attorney, his team and the prosecution. Its vivid, its real,it's detailed, you become addicted to this 6 hour epic, you actually get to like his attorney a lot, a real lot, as you see him and accused as if they are really in a movie, and it is so good, it appears to be so - but is real, it is not a movie, they are talking about the case, the alleged murder by Michael Peterson of his wife - in other words, you have the fantastic combo of a real murder case, and natural acting, very natural acting, indeed Peterson's lawyer is so natural you think gee, this is fantastic, he's great - he is, and and it is. You see natural images and footage of lots of people, and the alleged murderer, in the murder home talking about the case in detail with all the forensics exposed and unpacked. But even more, you get very many close ups of the alleged murderer in particular, not just in court, but in the home, and you are completely riveted to that face all the time, for every millisecond (well I was anyway), because you are desperately trying to read the face, the eyes to get a signal, any signal whatever all the time about whether he did it, whether he is going to break down, whether he is innocent or not; you can't make up your mind, or if you do, something else is introduced to question the position you may have taken only minutes earlier. You know you just have to keep watching this, you just have to see it right out. The Director impeccably adds to the drama by the brilliant and gradual collation, sifting and analysis,while at the same time he continually gives you video closes up of discussions - superb, the comments by the alleged murderer, his children, the other member of the legal team, and you try to read into their faces whether they are behind the senior attorney, or whether they really believe the guy is innocent or not; wowee eh?. You get new twists and turns, one of which is amazing. You get the dry humour of the defendant's chinese forensic specialist who very amusingly answers a serious prosecution question that makes you laugh, and you see others laughing too at the brilliant but totally natural responses he makes - it is truly superb stuff, it breaks the drama, and reenergises you to leaving the DVD to run, even though it's well past your bed time. Don't stuff around with this, yes pace your viewing,don't change channels, and 6 hours is too much in the one sitting, but don't leave a session more than a few days apart.
So to conclude, I would defy anybody not to be completely gripped by this masterpiece, no matter what little questions you may have, ones you might have wanted answers to - I did too, but it matters not.
Don't miss this viewing, it's near perfect TV drama and entertainment

I cannot recommend anything else, any other viewing at all, hat comes even close to this!!!!!!!
So Freaky 7 Jun 2014
By Micole D. - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A very interesting murder case, as good as (or even better) than any book of fiction. But even more fascinating since it really happened.
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