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The Mystery of DB Cooper

Year: 2020
Production Co: Minnow Films
Director: John Dower
Writer: John Dower

If you spend enough time on Reddit, Quora or similar places online where they talk about conspiracies or mysteries, you might know the story. In 1971 an unidentified man hijacked a flight from Portland to Seattle, sending the stewardess a note that he had a bomb strapped to himself (and showing her when she sat down).

Along with a ransom he demanded to be flown to Mexico City but after landing to refuel and letting all the passengers go he had the crew open the rear door and parachuted out into the night over the forests of the Pacific Northwest in the middle of winter, never to be seen again.

When a few muddied banknotes matching the serial numbers were found along a riverbank by a local kid nine years later it prompted a resurgence of interest in the case, but to this day it's never been solved.

Like John Ridley's brilliant doco Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992, which tracked down the people actually involved in the aftermath of the Rodney King riots, the makers of this film have found the original copilot, the stewardess 'Cooper' had sit next to him and friends and family of the various suspects.

One by one it tells the story of at least five people all suspected of being the real Cooper, and interviews with people who knew or were related to them give very compelling evidence about the suspected hijacker in their midst.

If you don't know the story any deeper than the Wikipedia Page it's a fascinating deep dive into not just everything that's happened related to the case since then, but into a handful of suspects that all seem to fit the bill for different reasons (if everyone's telling the truth). No wonder the FBI - in a press conference held only recently – officially closed the still-unsolved case.

It touches on the pop culture zeitgeist around the crime at the time – how many saw Cooper as a heroic, Robin Hood-like figure sticking it to the man and getting away with it when the early 70s fuel crisis was bankrupting millions. But mostly it's just great fodder for fans of a weird mystery.

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