What’s fact and what’s fiction in Netflix’s tale of serial killer Charles Cullen?
Netflix is a content juggernaut and recently found itself on the receiving end of some criticism for its series about mass murderer Charles Cullen.
But are Netflix’s series about the crime spree of Charles Cullen, the man convicted of murdering three young girls, a work of fiction or fact? There’s some debate as to how much of the original story is based in fact and how much is entertainment, and the show has its own fandom.
On Wednesday, Netflix will debut its first original series, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, based on the true-crime book by Australian journalist and newspaperman, Paul Bernal. We talked to the author to find out more about the show and a few other questions we weren’t able to ask.
Kathleen Turner: Could you talk about the Netflix series?
Paul Bernal: The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a Netflix original series, but it isn’t really intended to be an original series, it’s really based on a series of Australian newspaper articles that went viral in 2012, and it was based on the book that Bernal wrote in 2003 called One More River. The book is a look back at the murder of a young Aboriginal girl called Bridgette Alexander who was murdered in 1980. She was the daughter of a wealthy Melbourne businessman and an Aboriginal woman called Annie Belle, who were very close to the Aboriginals in the area where they lived.
There were numerous articles in the media at the time. Many Aboriginal people in Australia were upset by the murders, but also felt let down when the media just did not give enough attention to what really happened, that the murders had a racial aspect to it and that people had been murdered in a discriminatory manner.
When the book was first published, about 10 years ago, I got a lot of letters, letters of support and letters saying “You’ve touched a nerve.” So that did not go unpunished back then.
Kathleen Turner: You mentioned how the series is not really an original, but I was intrigued. What is the idea behind it?
Paul Bernal: Well, the idea was, I’ve been trying to make a film about the Bridgette Alexander case for about four years now, and I finally decided I don’t want to go to the expense of producing a film if the book is going to do it. The reason is the