Cover image for The Central Park five
The Central Park five
Publication Information:
[Arlington, Va.] : PBS : Distributed by PBS Distribution, ©2013.
Physical Description:
1 videodisc (120 min.) : sd., color ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:
Special features: Interviews with the filmmakers; After the Central Park Five (13 min.).

Originally produced in 2012. Original release date in theaters November 23, 2012.
Personal Subject:
Chronicles America's complicated perceptions of race and crime through the story of the "Central Park 5"--A group of minority teenagers wrongfully convicted and jailed for brutally raping a white woman in New York.
System Details:
DVD, 5.1 surround, 2.0 stereo., region 1, NTSC.
Language Note:
English with optional English SDH or Spanish subtitles.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Nonfiction DVD DVD 364.1532 CEN 1 1
Nonfiction DVD DVD 364.1532 CEN 1 1
Nonfiction DVD DVD 364.1532 CEN 1 1

On Order



Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns (Prohibition) teams with his daughter Sarah and her husband David McMahon to examine the facts in the case of five minority teens from Harlem who in 1989 were accused of committing a heinous rape in Central Park, and the failure of the authorities and the media to ensure that justice was served. Hastily tried and convicted as racial tensions in New York City spiked, the innocent teens all served time in prison before a serial rapist shocked authorities by admitting sole responsibility for the brutal sexual assault. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Reviews 2

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Filmmaker Ken Burns turns his well-documented talents to a more contemporary topic: the beating and rape of a white woman in New York's Central Park during racial and class strife in the late 1980s. The news media applied incredible pressure on the city's embattled police force to solve the crime which resulted in charges made against five Hispanic and black young men who were in the park that night. After each served prison sentences for the crime despite only meager circumstantial evidence and coerced confessions, another man's admission of guilt was supported by evidence. This moving documentary of what came to be called "The Central Park Jogger Case" tells the story from the perspective of the five men with a rich mix of archival video and personal commentary from all those involved-public officials, media professionals, attorneys, and historians. This thorough review, typical of Burns's celebrated style, makes an historical event understandable and relevant. Particularly effective are the commentaries by four of the five victims of what was generally considered to have been society's compulsion for quick "justice" at the time and its resultant effect on racial relations nationwide. Some street language is used, but it is hardly offensive and fits naturally into the speakers' milieu. The options of chapter selection as well as English and Spanish subtitles enhance the value of this resource for both classroom and library settings.-Dwain Thomas, formerly Lake Park High School, Roselle, IL (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Library Journal Review

In 1989, a jogger was brutally raped in New York's Central Park. Five young men of color were arrested and, after prolonged interrogations without benefit of legal counsel, forced to confess. All of them were tried, convicted, and served time before another man in 2002 claimed responsibility. Filmmaker Burns makes use of footage from the taped confessions, current interviews with the now-exonerated men and others close to the case, archival news coverage, newspaper headlines, and courtroom drawings from the trials to tell the story and provide a solid understanding of the chain of events. With a canny mix of interviews and imagery, the film exposes the journalistic hype, racial bias, public outcry, and justice system malfeasance that drove an egregious trampling of rights and lives. Bonus features include filmmaker commentary and recent interviews with four of the five men. -VERDICT By forgoing the narration typical of so many of Burns's documentaries and juxtaposing new interviews with the adult men against film of their youthful confessions, Burns and company put forth a fresh perspective on a familiar story and capture the humanity of those falsely convicted. An engrossing and revelatory examination of the aftermath of a horrendous crime, this video should be widely seen, particularly by those working in the criminal justice system.-Joan Pedzich, formerly with Harris Beach PLLC, Pittsford, NY (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.