Fincher’s film Zodiac raises interesting questions surrounding archives and how they are framed. The Zodiac killer’s motivations and identity are constantly studied throughout the story, with the police primarily having pieces of evidence from the murders and as pointers to who he might be. As usual, as many physical items from the crime scenes as possible were collected and stored for analysis. Because of their storage and the meaning(s) ascribed to them, this database of items can certainly be seen as an archive.

The Zodiac killer himself is of interest in the context of archiving because of his insistence on his actions being documented/archived. Making contributions to the archive being constructed around his murders are one way he asserts control over his own narrative. Control is an apparent need for the Zodiac killer, and his playful relationship with the police paired with his elusiveness reinforces his confidence. He frequently makes provocative gestures throughout the film to ensure that there will be press coverage, cementing his legacy. It was also hinted at in the film that at times he would feed into the press’s coverage of general murders only to double back afterwards and take credit to previously less publicized killings. This type of understanding of the impact of mass media and records gives a sense that the Zodiac’s killings are not just about deaths, but something more that he is also interested in. He toys with what constitutes evidence and if evidence ultimately points to truth.

Knowing the gravity of committing killings, he thoughtfully creates additional items for archiving beyond just the evidence collected by police from crime scenes. His main mode of expression comes in the form of coded letters, adding to his mystique and serving as his signature. As someone who values control of his own archive, there are a few times where he collects materials from the crime scene where he committed his murders, only to later send them in to authorities as a means of verifying the authenticity of what he is saying or submitting. By doing this, he differentiates his voice from all the other people calling in with tips or trying to claim the distinction of being “The Zodiac Killer”. Artists typically have elements of their creations that can be threaded through their work, and it seems as though the Zodiac gleefully buys into this notion as well.

Robert Graysmith’s (cartoonist turned author) interest in the Zodiac case ultimately provides a remediation of the evidence collected by the police. Because of his intimate knowledge and somewhat obsession with the Zodiac killer he decided to write a book on the case. His subjective interpretations, facts collected as evidence, and previously unreleased (to the public) facts create yet another alternative lens through which to understand the initial archived materials from the case. Graysmith’s remediation ultimately led to this film that we’ve analyzed.

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