The film Capote is based on the book “In Cold Blood” that Truman Capote wrote in 1966, it’s a novel, which detailed the horrible murder that shocked the little town of Holcomb in Kansas. The murder happened in 1959; the Clutter family was the victims here, a Kansas farmer, his wife and two kids.
You would think what does this have to do with ethics? This was just the beginning for the writer Truman Capote. If the movie Capote would be mentioned it would bring up disturbing ethical questions. This is because to get his book to be such a best seller, he went through a lot of things that would be unethical to anyone with a sense of ethics.
In the movie you would see what Truman Capote went through to get the details of his story. At the start Capote was looking through the newspaper for a story for his new book. There he saw the clipping, which was headlining the murder of the Clutter family, this was the start of his new book. On the journey he travelled with his childhood friend Nelle Harper Lee, whom is also the famous writer of To Kill a Mockingbird, to Holcomb, a small prairie town in Kansas, for the report of the murder of the Clutters.
First thing that Capote did was to go to the police station; he told the cops that he was there to write a story of the murder for the New Yorker and not for the search of the killers. This was not exactly true, what attracted him to the small town was the hunt for the next great story for his new book.
During the movie you would see that Capote tries really hard to get any little details for his book. They way he tried to get information from others were really unconventional, he would go directly to the witness asking them questions without even asking if he could talk to them before he interrogates them.
This is where Harper Lee would come in; she would be the moral of the movie for Capote’s real life. Harper Lee is always trying to smooth out the problems that Capote would cause.
What happened next was really disrespectful and isn’t the professional way to do things. Capote had gone to the funeral home where the bodies of the Clutter family lied. The four bodies were in their own casket, all where set next to each other. Capote went to these four caskets; he opened each one examining their bodies and clothing. As he described in his book each one of the bodies the head were wrapped up because their heads were all blown away and he also described the colors and type of clothing they were wearing. This was truly disrespectful of how he went through the caskets to get details for his story and without asking permission from the family first.
To get the real dirt of the murder for the story of his book had to get friendly and befriend the murderers. Capote has decided to befriend Perry Smith the gentler of the two murderers; Dick Hickock was more violent. Capote went to the place where Smith was held; he had tricked the wife of the Sheriff that he was visiting her because she must be lonely while her husband was out working. He knew very well that Smith was held there and he just tricked the Sherrif’s wife to get closer to him. This is also where the “friendship” between Capote and Smith would begin. Smith has asked Capote if he would have some aspirin for him and at a certain point he hesitated for a while then he said no. This hesitation is where Capote had a plan, the next day he would bring Smith some aspirin and this is where he plans to befriend Smith to get more inside information about the murder.
Capote has also promised to help Smith and Hickock, he would find them a lawyer to defend them and try to free them. Smith and Hickock actually believed that Capote would be so nice to help them out but Capote actually lied to them. He doesn’t actually care for them; he doesn’t want them to be freed. He just wants their trial sentenced to death to be postponed so that he could get more information for his story.
To get information from the killers he would need to talk to them everyday but everyone only gets once a week visitation rights. To get visitation rights everyday he has bribed the warden with money. Bribing to get your way is not what you should be doing this is an unethical way. But as few months goes by Capote still hasn’t gotten much information from the killers so he would tell Smith to keep a journal and he would bring Hickock pornography magazines just to get in with them. Why would you bring pornography magazines for a criminal? It’s actually not even allowed to give such reading materials to prisoners.
Back to the journal of Smith, Capote has intended to let Smith write everything in the journal so that he would borrow the journal and get some information on Smith. But the journal didn’t have anything about the night of the murder so to make Smith talk Capote would tell him his childhood story, which was strangely similar to Smith’s. At one point it felt like they’ve connected with each other, but once again he has tricked the guys. When the killers have heard about Capote’s book reading, but earlier Smith has asked Capote if he had started writing his book but Capote said no while he has. When they’ve heard about the reading, they’ve asked him if he wrote anything or if he had a title for his book; he lied again and said he doesn’t know what they were talking about.
When Smith thought that he was writing about their unjust trial he heard about the book title. He truly thought that Capote would be helping both of them out to show that they’re having an unjust trial but that wasn’t the case. But as Capote he calmly said that he didn’t pick the title of the book, but the publicist has and it’s not his fault.
Nearly three years after the murder in Holcomb, Capote still hasn’t gotten what he wanted to know, how did they murder the family and what were they thinking. The killers’ death-row appeals are delaying the ending of his book, he wants them dead already but he doesn’t want them to die yet. This was one of the ethical code of conduct where he was just thinking of himself but was is also in a dilemma of the death of Smith.
To get the murder story out of Smith, Capote went to his sister, to get more information, which he hasn’t seen for over 10 years. His sister gave Capote a photo album and told him to keep it because she doesn’t have use for it she hates her brother. With this he tricked Smith, Capote brought a picture of Smith with his sister when he was younger, he told Smith that his sister misses him. This is where Smith thought that he might have a chance to be reunited with his sister so he told the story how he killed the Clutter family to Capote.
At a certain point in the journey Capote had started to develop feelings towards Smith. Harper Lee even joked around that he might be even in love with Smith, but Capote never revealed these feelings. There was never a clear line when he fell in love for him but when the movie was closing on the end Capote had gotten depressed where he didn’t want to see Smith die.
To summarize the questionable unethical things that Capote has done:
- Capote has lied and deceived the detectives that he was writing an article for the New Yorker but instead he was actually writing a book.
- He has defiled the dead bodies, disrespected the Clutter family.
- He has lied and deceived everyone over and over again just to get his story.
- Hired a lawyer to defend the killers just to postpone their death row so that he can have more information of the killing for his book.
- Befriending a killer just to get information out of him.
- Bribing the warden to have his way.
- Giving pornography magazine to the incarcerated.
- Falling in love with the killer while he has a partner.
- Want the killers to be dead already but at the same time he doesn’t otherwise he is unable to finish his book.
- At some point he felt that he shouldn’t have lied and deceived Smith for his book but this is what made it as best selling