By Grant Gierhahn ‘20
In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis and mandated social distancing, many students are left to scavenge for entertainment at their own homes, which can admittedly be a difficult task. Nowadays, streaming services, like Hulu, provide such a wide array of films that selecting a worthwhile movie can become a truly daunting endeavor.
But be not afraid.
While Hulu offers plenty of solid movie options, “We Are Columbine,” released in March of 2019, is certainly worth a mere 83 minutes of one’s time.
Directed by Laura Farber, a survivor of the Columbine massacre herself, “We Are Columbine” sheds a unique outlook on one of the most heinous, yet groundbreaking mass shootings in American history. Assuming a narrow scope, “We Are Columbine” focuses on the direct experiences of four students in particular, Amy, Gus, Jaimi and Zach. The reasoning these individuals were selected as the film’s sole student subjects is relatively ambiguous, but intriguing nonetheless. Because none of the four students were necessarily on the front lines of the calamity-none had as much as a firsthand interaction with the killers themselves, highlighting these individuals in such a powerful documentary subtly demonstrates that every survivor’s story, though some more extreme than others, is equally memorable.
Along with Columbine’s former principal and a popular English teacher, the four students tour their old stomping grounds nearly two decades after the shooting, both reflecting on their past horrors and conveying their progression since.
Killing 13 innocent civilians and wounding nearly two dozen, the atrocity at Columbine gave rise to the modern school shooting epidemic that Americans and many across the globe are experiencing on an increasingly frequent basis. Not to mention, as a result of the massacre, Columbine’s numerous victims and the entire solemn United States suffer from grave emotional scars that will never fully heal. “We Are Columbine” effectively explores the vast media coverage of the 1999 tragedy and the utterly shocking nature of the incident.
Most strikingly, however, is the documentary’s innate ability to maintain focus on the victims and, quite literally, only the victims. “We Are Columbine” doesn’t, even once, mention the names of the killers. The documentary doesn’t investigate any potential motives for the killings or give any unmerited attention to the disturbed perpetrators. Although this methodology may delve less thoroughly into the mass shooting than some viewers may like, the documentary sends a forceful, yet compelling message to both society and global media collectively that victims and the devastated communities themselves, above all else, demand the utmost media attention.
Unequivocally, “We Are Columbine” provides sound insight into the Columbine tragedy, while also encompassing truly moving elements that underscore the incident’s unprecedented trauma. “We Are Columbine,” as a whole, not only appeals to a diverse audience, but also exemplifies the profound commemoration that Columbine and its innocent victims so clearly deserve.
The link to the “We Are Columbine” trailer is listed below: