But then the act of restoring some kind of recognisability to the corpses was at the heart of this enterprise - both because it would provide firm evidence of guilt in the unlikely event of some legal reckoning and because until names had been attached to bodies the relatives left behind couldn't set aside their hopes. "We actually knew the people who put them on the buses," said one widow, explaining why she found it so hard to believe that her husband had been taken away to be beaten and shot. As you watched the UN investigators scraping away till their trowels hit on bone or matted hair, you realised that this exhumation was also an inverted funeral, burying the fantasies of survival that had sustained the relatives through years of uncertainty. When one muddy, faceless scarecrow yielded family photographs and an identity card in the name of Michaelo Zera you thought of his widow's delayed mourning but were not shown it, an uncharacteristic instance of looking the other way which seemed entirely proper. At all other times Giles's film gazed steadily enough to coax an eloquence out of the fragments of those interrupted lives, most notably with a dirt- clotted wristwatch which was still ticking when it was unearthed, a sound which she amplified to serve as a pertinent accompaniment to the fruitless patience of the relatives waiting for news.
Murder Squad, first of a series of documentaries about real-life murder investigations, bore at least one similarity to The Grave, even if it was far more shy about the fleshly consequences of violence. In both cases the culprit was fairly evident and what was being sought was incontrovertible evidence that would guarantee conviction. Despite the media hype about police "bafflement", and one reporter's insistence that "they're going to need a lot of public help to solve this crime", this admittedly unusual combination of sexual assault and double murder was actually a straightforward case. The man finally convicted walked into a police station on the first day and was never likely to walk out again, having left fingerprints all over the murder scene and his features etched into the memories of the girls he raped. Along with its understandable discretion about the murder victims and detectives now doing undercover work, Murder Squad was also guilty of a bit of strategic exclusion - postponing the revelation that the suspect had lived opposite the murdered couple in order, I presume, to bend the film a little closer to the deliciously elongated mysteries of fiction.Reuse content