In Cold Blood- New perspective

To get an even better insight into the story of In Cold Blood I decided to watch two versions of the film. I decided to watch the original version from 1967 first, where the film followed the  the trail of Smith and Hickok as they broke into the home of the Clutter family. What I took from the film was the relationship between Smith and Jenson (Capote’s fictional character). Towards the end of the film, Jenson started to meet Perry as they became quite close.

Still intrigued by this I wanted to know more about their relationship as I read online that Capote apparently took quite a big interest in Smith as he was interviewing him for the actual book. I then found out about the film Capote which is a version of the In Cold Blood film but following the events of Capote himself writing the book. Here I saw the relationship between the pair even closer. Of the two murderers Capote only took an interest in Smith as he learns about his life. The story of Smith’s life, his remorseful manner, and his emotional sincerity impress Capote, who becomes emotionally attached to him despite the gruesome murders. Capote aids Smith and Hickock by obtaining expert legal counsel for them and initiating an appeal. This is a chance for him to find out why the pair murdered the family. Bu Capote become frustrated, as Smith declines to relate exactly what happened on the night of the murders. Though initially an effort to provide proper representation and extend Capote’s opportunity to speak with the killers, the appeals process drags on for several years. Without the court case being resolved, Capote feels he is stuck with a story without an ending, and he is unable to complete his book. Eventually he gets Smith to describe the killings and his thoughts at the time in great detail. He has what he wants from Smith, but in the process he sees a callousness and selfishness in his own actions. Throughout this process Capote lies to Smith about the book, as he doesn’t want him to know what he has written about him. The only way the book can be finished is by Smith admitting what happened on the night, which in turn would give Smith and Hickock the death penalty.

Did Capote use Smith?

Or did he really care about him?

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