The Staircase tells the story of Michael Peterson’s murder trail through the eyes of a fictitious detective.
Truth-telling at its pinnacle isn’t going away any time soon. The Staircase, a critically acclaimed docuseries, is the basis for a new real crime drama on HBO Max. The film adaptation has already received a 90 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has been added to our list of movies to see in May.
Filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s 2004 documentary miniseries, The Staircase, is based on the film. Following Michael Peterson’s murder trial for his wife’s death, this book documented the proceedings. The video crew was able to get up close and personal with Peterson, his family, and his legal team in a way that had never been possible before.
The cast includes Colin Firth as Peterson, Toni Collette as Kathleen, Michael Stuhlbarg as David Rudolf, the defence attorney, and Vincent Vermignon as Lestrade, all of whom appear in the drama. How narrative impacts subjectivity and whether a case can ever be understood with absolute clarity are examined in this eight-episode limited series. If you haven’t seen HBO Max yet, this may be a good time to give it a try.
What you should know about the Michael Peterson trial
There were five children in the Peterson household: Caitlin, Clayton and Todd, as well as two stepdaughters, Margaret and Martha. Michael Peterson was a writer residing in Durham, North Carolina with his wife Kathleen Atwater and their five children (daughters of his friends George and Elizabeth Ratliff).
He contacted 911 to report Kathleen’s death after she fell down the stairs at home in December 2002. Instead, the authorities decided that he had bludgeoned her to death with a missing fireplace tool. In court, a team of lawyers, lead by David Rudolf, defended Peterson against murder charges.
A excellent series about a fantastic documentary so far, The Staircase has the potential to become a terrific series in the last few episodes.
It’s Daniel Fienberg of the Hollywood Reporter.
When Peterson and his first wife Patricia were living in Germany, it was revealed that he was involved in a second death by stairs. Elizabeth Ratliff (then a widow), a friend of theirs, had an intra-cerebral haemorrhage and tumbled down the stairs. Kathleen’s head traumas were very identical to her own. Ratliff’s death was ruled an accident by the German authorities and the U.S. military.
The prosecution, on the other hand, argued that Peterson was motivated to stage Kathleen’s stairway accident because of the initial death. When Kathleen realised that Michael was bisexual and had relationships with guys, they told her the tale. He beat her to death and then attempted to cover it up because they had gotten into an argument.
That Kathleen was unaware of his sexuality, and that even if she had, she would have accepted it, is what Peterson claims happened. The fact that he was outside by the pool when Kathleen collapsed was his alibi, and he adhered to it.
In October 2003, a jury found Peterson guilty after one of the most drawn-out proceedings in the state’s history. He received a life sentence with no chance of release. Numerous appeals were unsuccessful.
The owl hypothesis and its latest test
An owl attack may have been the cause of Kathleen’s death in 2009, according to Durham attorney T. Lawrence Pollard. A minuscule owl feather and a wooden splinter discovered in a clump of hair in Kathleen’s palm were included in the evidence list created by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI). More tiny owl feathers were discovered during a reexamination of the hair.
the claims of an owl or any other bird doing such severe damage on Kathleen’s scalp were mocked by the prosecution and the coroner who performed the autopsy. There was no fresh trial motion by Peterson because of his owl idea.
The Staircase’s performances, not its meticulous replication and staging, are what make it the most riveting version of itself.
Carly Lane of Collider reports.
In the end, a retrial was granted to him because to 2010 allegations about the SBI’s poor performance. One of the most important witnesses against Peterson, SBI analyst Duane Deaver, was eventually fired as a consequence of their actions. Bloodstain analysis was not one of Deaver’s skillsets, despite his testimony to the contrary.
Peterson was granted bail and freed from jail in December 2011; he is now living at home under house arrest. As a result of the ruling, a fresh trial has been ordered. It had been slated to commence in May 2017, but his lawyers struck an agreement with the prosecution and the trial was halted. Peterson took an Alford plea in February 2017, which signifies that the defendant maintains his innocence but accepts a guilty plea because of adequate evidence.
He was given a sentence of 86 months in jail, the maximum allowed. As long as he received credit for time already served, Peterson was able to stay out of prison.
After his lawsuit was settled, Peterson authored two books about it: Behind the Staircase and Beyond the Staircase.. A ground-floor flat with no stairwells is where he’s said to be living right now, in Durham.
Watching Staircase is available on Netflix and Hulu
Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, a French filmmaker, got unrestricted access to Peterson, his family, and his legal team. The eight-episode miniseries premiered on ABC’s Primetime Thursday in 2004 and broadcast in its entirety on the Sundance Channel’s Storyville in the United Kingdom in 2004.
It debuted at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in 2012 and was shown on the Sundance Channel. Lestrade’s two-hour follow-up was released in 2012.
The Staircase III, a follow-up film, was announced by the director in 2015. A three-episode series was purchased by Netflix and published. Prequels are now available to stream as well.
Now that Netflix has released all 13 episodes of The Staircase, you may watch them all.
The Staircase is rated and reviewed by users.
While Rotten Tomatoes hasn’t yet established a critical consensus on The Staircase (2022) (waiting for additional reviews), the reviews that have been posted are overwhelmingly favourable.
“So far, The Staircase is a fine series about a great documentary, but it has the potential to become extremely fantastic in the home stretch.” The Hollywood Reporter’s Daniel Fienberg says.
Film critic Ben Travers of Indiewire calls the film “a riveting and snappy sequel to the documentary” because of its “slick structure,” “winking criticism on true-crime culture,” and “great performance by Colin Firth, among others.”
Collider’s Carly Lane comments, “What makes The Staircase the most engaging version of itself resides in its performances, for all its painstaking replication and staging.” Lane
“Firth in particular does a terrific job of making Michael seem like a mystery, while also capturing the actual Peterson’s peculiar style of speaking,” Chris Evangelista at SlashFilm writes.
“The finest scenes conjure the uneasy fascination of a decent (or at least amusing) true-crime film, constructed around a terrific performance by Firth,” writes TheWrap’s Jesse Hassenger.