Paedophilia is something that’s always been known to be a problem within the Church system. While many people mention it, almost jokingly at times, the true horrors of what victims endured at the hands of this crime is far more serious and harrowing. Split across three episodes, Examination Of Conscience is a shocking and oftentimes upsetting documentary series that shows the true extent of abuse across three Spanish Marist Brother schools. Armed with a balanced viewpoint, plenty of facts and interviews with both victims and teachers, Conscience is an eye-opening documentary, shedding light on corruption running right through the rotten core of this system.
The first episode acts as a broad overview to the problem, introducing us to a world of abuse and corruption rife in the Marist Brother schools. Across an unimaginable length of time, the series sheds light on the ugly truth behind abuse at the hands of teachers, both physical and sexual. From masturbation and forced fellatio to physical abuse and penetration, Examination Of Conscience is a hard-hitting, shocking documentary series that certainly isn’t for the fainthearted. After the first episode, the second and third dive deeper into individual cases, with face to face interviews between abuser and abused acting as the anchor by which the rest of the episode rests on.
Along with these moments, history of the schools and various teachers are explored along with plenty of saddening stories shared from the victims themselves. Early on there’s an interview with one of the abusers too and something that isn’t touched on very often with this topic is raised, albeit in a slightly haphazard manner. Referring to paedophilia as a sickness, the abuser discusses his mental struggle with his dark desires but ultimately it’s not really mentioned again. On reflection perhaps this could have been explored further with the help of psychologists but it’s a minor point and doesn’t detract too much from the overall appeal of the show.
Stylistically though, Examination Of Consicence is a little clumsily presented at times. Some of the subtitles blend into white backgrounds making it difficult to decipher certain words while a smattering of newspaper articles and lengthy written work are only partially translated. The mix of archival footage, face to face interviews and still images are a nice touch though and keep the focus on the abuse and stories being told.
While there isn’t anything here that hasn’t been done better or more stylishly elsewhere, this Spanish documentary series still makes for an absorbing watch nonetheless. Despite some questionable aesthetic choices, Examination Of Conscience is a very real and very painful account of abuse rife across the Marist Brother schools. With so many victims across such a lengthy space of time, it beggars belief that these men haven’t been brought to justice sooner. Although Netflix’s other documentary series this week, The Ted Bundy Tapes, is likely to garner all the attention, Examination Of Conscience is worth checking out nonetheless.
Verdict - 7/10