"In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over." – British journalist Dan Hodges
It’s hard not to keep Hodges’ increasingly famous comment out of your head as you watch Kim A. Snyder’s absolutely brutal "Newtown," her examination of life after the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Conn.
This is not a polemical movie, not really. Rather, over a course of three years, it engages parents, teachers, caregivers and neighbors of the six adults and 20 children, between 6 and 7-years old murdered by an armed-to-the-teeth 20-year old Adam Lanza on Dec. 14, 2012. (The shooter’s name is never mentioned.)
There are 911 calls from on the day. There is dash cam footage from cars racing to the scene. There is some discussion with first responders, one of whom says of the crime scene, "I don’t think anyone needs to know specifically what we saw." One EMT can’t really speak about it at all.
But there are also home movies and photographs of the children who were killed as Snyder follows Mark Barden (father of the late Daniel Barden), David Wheeler (father of the late Ben Wheeler) and Nicole Hockley (mother to the late Dylan Hockley). All three became gun-control activists and, quite frankly, all three were profoundly brave to let Snyder into their lives.
Make no mistake: This is a film that most parents (any? all?) will find physically difficult to watch, as it a sharp reminder of the lack of control one has, the vast majority of the time, over what happens to one’s kids. Anything can happen to anyone at any time, and the aftershocks linger and change and peak and valley and peak again. It never leaves. It will never, ever leave.
And if it happened once, it can absolutely happen again. Apparently, we’ve accepted it.
Other screenings: 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Alamo Lamar; 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Marchesa. — J.G.