The Case of Richard Jewel tells a true story adapted for the cinema. The film, directed by Clint Eastwood, takes place in 1996 during the Atlanta Olympics.
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The 2019 feature was acclaimed by critics and general audiences at the time of release, accumulating positive reviews. The plot was even nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for Kathy Bates and won other awards, such as the American Film Institute and National Board of Review in the Best Film and Best Newcomer categories for Paul Walter Hauser.
Before watching the film, let’s get to know better the story of the case, which was the talk of the 1990s in the United States and the world.
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What is the Richard Jewel Case about?
The film The Case of Richard Jewel takes place during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, in the USA, when the guard who gives the film its name claims to have discovered a bomb in the Olympic Park on July 27th. With that, several people managed to leave the place moments before the explosion and their lives were saved.
After Jewel became a national hero, the FBI began to suspect that the guard would be the main suspect in the attack, starting to become a villain. Richard was then accused of having planned the explosion so that he could play the hero, even if it cost lives.
The pursuit of Richard Jewel lasted about 88 days, even though the guard was not officially charged with the crime. It didn’t take long for the FBI to discover that he wasn’t the man they were looking for. Only in 2005, however, did the culprit appear: Eric Rudolph, who confessed to the crime.
The job at the Olympic Park was an opportunity for Richard Jewel to raise money to pay for surgery for his mother, who lived in Atlanta. Hiring would be for 12-hour shifts, but a sacrifice that would compensate for the remuneration.
However, things started to unravel when there was the incident at the Olympic Park. Richard claims to have seen the bomb around 10 pm, when he had just returned from the bathroom. He says he saw a group of drunk people who were bothering and making the place dirty, and decided to report it to the police.
But on the way, the guard noticed the presence of a green backpack, with a military tone, left under a bench. At first glance, he didn’t think it was a bomb and even joked about the situation to FBI agent Tom Davis. Afterwards, the officer said that no one had lost a backpack, and the statement was enough for Richard to suspect that the situation was not good.
Tom Davis and Richard Jewel, then, removed people from the place, between public and workers, and soon the explosion happened. The detonation, which occurred at dawn, released several pieces of shrapnel on top of those nearby. Afterwards, the police discovered that there were nails inside the pipe of the bomb, which would leave people even more injured.
A call to the police was still recorded 30 minutes before the explosion. Attendants wrote down the following message: “There is a bomb in Centennial Park. You have 30 minutes.” The explosion killed a woman and injured 111 others, and a camera operator had a heart attack as he rushed to film the scene. If not for Jewel, the death toll would be even higher.
Who’s to blame?
Jewel began to be accused of being involved after a report by journalist Kathy Scruggs was published, stating that an FBI source revealed that the guard was suspected of planting the bomb. The report ended up completely changing the lives of Richard and his mother, who suffered the consequences of misinformation.
Even with the confirmation that he was not involved with the case, in October 1996, the damage caused to Richard’s life became irreversible. He was extremely persecuted by the press, who were always in front of the house where he lived and even followed him by helicopter. Some journalists even offended the accused due to his physical characteristics, in addition to comparing him to serial killers.
Finally, the real culprit for the crime appeared, leaving Richard free of the accusations, which no longer had any evidence or foundation. Sadly, Jewell died early in 2005 due to complications from diabetes.
Where to watch The Case of Richard Jewel?
The entire story of the case is told in the film The Case of Richard Jewel, which has just premiered on Prime Video.