Last week, seeing we were assigned to watch Zodiac in class ignited questions in me. I had seen the movie about a year ago, and remembered a few things: the ending, that Jack Gyllenhaal was in it, and that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I remember Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, Robert Graysmith, pouring over old newspaper articles, but I was still curious as to the connections that could be made with the movie and our class. Sitting down to watch it this time, I decided to keep in mind the aspects of our class we have discussed.

Several main points popped out at me while I was watching. A main one was how different the events would have transpired if they had taken place in the modern day. The big issue as to why the Zodiac killer was never caught was the problem with the archives and evidence stored across the entire state of California. Imagine how helpful a digital archive would have been for Robert Graysmith, and more importantly, the police. Connections could have been made extremely quickly, perhaps years before, if a digital archive existed. All of the archives, evidence, and articles would have been gathered in one place, which was the whole reason Graysmith was writing his book anyway. He thought that gathering all the important information would lead to the killer.

Another main theme that jumped out at me was the importance that the handwritten letter played in the events. Finding a match for the handwriting was one of the only aspects the police were focused on to nailing a suspect. Although they came close, a match for the handwriting was never found. This got me thinking about the notion of studying written documents and placing importance on them. Although I’m not sure the correct questions to asks, I think it is important to note that the handwriting never led them anywhere. Why didn’t they ever abandon the idea? How did they know the killer did intentionally practice a different handwriting ever time a letter was written? I understand that high importance was placed on the written letters due to the handwriting, but it seems like the it was never thought about why he was hand writing the documents in the first place. The materiality of the letters should have been noted by the police. The killer could have easily typed of the letters, so why was he choosing to hand write them? To lead them astray?

The importance of keeping archives is extremely obvious to the viewers in Zodiac, in fact, the entire movie is based on the files from the case. However, it was just as obvious that the archives weren’t completely organized and used to their greatest asset in catching the Zodiac killer.

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