The Legacy: Murder & Media, Politics & Prisons


Bottom 20% of all time (see others with this rank)

Festival Year

1999 (click here to see all competition films from this year)


Documentary Competition

Non-Cast Credits

Michael J. Moore, David L. Brown, Crickett Kowalczyk, Marshall Crutcher


Like the infamous Proposition 187, political initiatives are often tested and translated into legislation in California. This is exactly the case with a mandatory sentencing law known as "Three Strikes, You're Out." The Legacy vividly shows how quickly this legislation was passed, with very little opposition, and how its costly and devastating ramifications are about to resonate across the nation.

Unfolding almost like a drama, the film focuses on two fathers who have suffered through the most horrible of crimes: Their children were murdered. These fathers are Mike Reynolds, the driving force behind the initiative, and Mark Klaas, who came on board and galvanized public support. The film reveals the outpouring of support that came from voters as a direct result of Polly Klaas's abduction and murder. People felt helpless, and this gave them the power to do something, anything: a Žtaking back the streets" of sorts. Most of all, The Legacy shows the efficiency and determination of the political forces behind the bill and charts the way Mark Klaas was transformed from proponent to opponent.

One of the film's strengths is its decision to give equal time to both sides of the issue, utilizing news footage and well-edited interviews with key players. Telling moments are deftly scattered throughout, such as Governor Pete Wilson's timely shift on the issue to place him strategically on the winning side. The Legacy is a powerful portrait of political workings, civilian power, and two men who never expected to find themselves in the midst of this battle.


Lisa Viola (see other films reviewed by the same reviewer)

Film Takes Pace.