120210BronteFeb. 10, 2012

“(The scene of children screaming invective at a prison-bound Bob Kelly) was… the graphic heart of the documentary….

“The car pulled away, and they began to giggle self-consciously. A second or two of awkward silence heightened the artificiality of the moment, the sense of a construct that the girls fully understood. Then an older woman (presumably a mother) moved into the silence, and began to clap and cheer. A few others joined in in desultory fashion. ‘Let’s go get something (to) eat,’ said the mom….

“By chance, I had just finished reading ‘The Professor,’ a minor novel of Charlotte Bronte’s. Like most Bronte novels it was laced with leisurely reflections, and this one struck me powerfully enough to note down: ‘Human beings – human children especially – seldom deny themselves the pleasure of exercising a power which they are conscious of possessing, even though that power consists only in a capacity to make others wretched.’

“As those children shrieked at Bob Kelly through the glass of the police car window, I wondered if there wasn’t more than a whiff of that pleasure in power in the air.

“And then I remembered this town is called Eden, and we’ve known for a long while that the darnedest things happened in Eden.”

– TV critic Ron Cerabona, reviewing “Innocence Lost: The Verdict”
in the Canberra (Australia) Times, Oct. 18, 1998