REVIEW: Netflix’s The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann

Written by on 9th November 2022

The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann is a tragic story which has always been shrouded in mystery for 15 years with a case so complex and firmly in the media spotlight, has the Netflix documentary brought new evidence to light?

The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann was aired in March 2019 as one season split into eight episodes. There were questions around whether the series just covered information gathered back in the media circus previously, and if there was further evidence to suggest if any of the events were true or false.

The documentary from the very start was a narration going back in time to the sunny, luxurious, family friendly holiday resort of Praia Da Luz on the tragic night in May 2007 to visit the events leading up to the three-year-old’s disappearance. Netflix is clearly going into the direction of expanding their true crime genre from documentaries already been aired such as Making A Murderer, The Staircase and the widely talked about Dahmer- Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, so this felt like a way to fill in the gap, cause hype and gain more clicks and traffic onto their platform, with the main focus being publicity rather than exploring the story deeper.

Instead of hashing up the police evidence and bringing some much-needed questions back to light with further theories, in a roundabout way the first episode explains the police’s delayed response to the disappearance, which is something already known, as well as how the media handled the case, and the sniffer dog’s findings in the boot of the parent’s car which surrounded the McCann family in allegations at the time.

It seems as if there is no way of finding a means to an end which is confusing. What was the end goal of this documentary? Something that was imprinted in my mind was that maybe legally this could be tricky, it is possibly libellous to stir up allegations towards the parents again with no solid evidence.

Another point to note is that the journalists in the documentary were interviewed talking about their experience of when the news broke and waiting eagerly for word from the Portuguese police. This seemed very scattered at first, and also pointless as there was nothing they said which was of any significance. Was this just used to fill up time? This is a constant question throughout the documentary as there doesn’t seem to be any clear purpose of why it was filmed, it felt like the documentary was leaning toward exploring the media circus and the emotions of those involved. It is interesting to explore human emotions in the middle of such a gut-wrenching case but I feel this should have been made clearer at the start of the documentary.

15 years have gone by and just like the investigation the Netflix documentary left the viewers with unanswered questions, no new evidence, suspects, or leads. There is nothing for the viewer to think about after watching the documentary, which is something a true crime documentary should do, while spurring new debates between one another. This is something more suitable for viewers who like a narrated storytelling documentary rather than a controversial, detailed true crime documentary.

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