The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann is a new documentary series looking at the most high-profile case potential abduction which has ever happened relating to a child from the UK. We get anecdotes and comments about the case from other holidaygoers, journalists, those who have written about it, as well as local residents, including one-time big suspect, Robert Murat, who was later found to be innocent, but try getting the British tabloids to understand facts(!)
When doctors Kate and Gerry McCann went out to a meal with friends, whilst on holiday in Portugal, even though they had the option to have their children looked after – since they also had twins, along with Madeleine, they just left all three back at the apartment. When they returned, Madeleine was gone.
I remember vividly when this case happened, as I was going through a big change in my life – one of those times when you remember everything without fail.
At the time, the public was told to “Look for Maddie”, as if they expected you to approach every young child in the street, who was with an adult, parent, in case they were being abducted when, most likely, they would be with their mother or father, and you’d get a smack in your face.
But then, fear is an easy sell, and it sells papers and (more recently, since this happened), gets clicks on websites.
On something else, why have I listed more than one aspect ratio? That’s because the interviews are all styled in a 2.35:1 widescreen ratio (a bit pointless, since 16:9 would be fine, but like Leaving Neverland, they want to make it look more like a movie), while the clips of 2007 footage and news items, from the time, are all in 4:3.
Just over 10 minutes in to episode one, we get to the day in question when Maddie went missing, so at least they don’t take too long to get to that, but…
…I can see that at eight episodes, it’s way too long. As I write this, I’ve seen the first two episodes, and having seen the case many times on the news over the years, while I get that they need to include backstory about the family, I don’t need a potted history about the area and how popular it is (albeit perhaps less so, now). If you make a vlog about something on Youtube, the best advice is always to edit down as much as possible, so you get to the root of what you’ve gone on camera to discuss. However, with this, Netflix know they have your money, so they can take as long as they like 🙁
Beyond that, maybe it’d be more engaging if I hadn’t seen every last step as it played out at the time, but since I have, it’s tiring to watch.
What do I think happened? Accidental death. I think Kate and Gerry McCann gave the kids something to help them sleep whilst they were out and about, but then Madeleine died and so to avoid prosection, they faked her abduction. There’s a record of a mysterious trip between Spain and Portugal which lasted around two hours – so that’s plenty of space, in the back of beyond, where you can forget about anyone tracking your movements. Just leave a small corpse out there somewhere, and the wildlife will dispose of it.
If you’ve ever seen Deadwood, then you’ll know about Mr Wu’s pigs…
Oh, and of course, the McCanns didn’t want to appear in this, but there is archive recordings of their voices.
The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann is available on Netflix now.
Episodes 1 and 2 Score: 3/10
Running time: 10*60 minutes (approx)
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1, 1.33:1
Director: Chris Smith
Music: Anne Nikitin
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.