Trailer Watch – The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson

Described as “the Rosa Parks of the LGBT movement”, and a household name amongst LGBTQ+ people and activists, Marsha P. Johnson was an icon of the 1960s gay rights movement. Her death was ruled a suicide, but now a new Netflix documentary gives an alternative theory.

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson explores the idea that the Stonewall activist was murdered, and she did not commit suicide as the police concluded. As the trailer outlines, many people at the time thought it was unlikely that Johnson would take her own life, and despite the case going cold, there were and still are several people who strongly believe it was murder.

Using footage and photographs from Johnson’s life, as well as numerous interviews from the present, this documentary follows Victoria Cruz’s investigation into Johnson’s death, and paints a new picture of what happened to her. Going over evidence from decades ago, re-examining the facts from a new perspective, and using interviews to understand Marsha P. Johnson’s life, worries, and state of mind, the film homes in on the million-dollar question – was it suicide, or was it murder?

This film also highlights the still-present issue of transgender women being murdered at high rates, making the documentary both history and current affairs. The positives of Johnson’s legacy are arguably overshadowed by the looming awareness that certain things have not changed enough, given the current state of her home country today.

The documentary itself is arriving at a hugely pertinent moment for the USA, following the President’s slew of attacks on the rights of LGBTQ+ people, including his attempt to ban transgender people from the military.

Called “essential viewing” by Rolling Stone, this documentary is set to be a poignant mystery, as well as being profoundly relevant to modern-day America.

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson arrives on Netflix on the 6th October 2017.

Isobel Sheene

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