One of the oddest and most illogical murder cases of modern times is recounted in intimate, incredible detail in the classy, disturbing drama A Cry in the Dark [from John Bryson’s Book Evil Angels].
The saga of Lindy Chamberlain’s harassment, trial and imprisonment for having allegedly murdered her baby daughter, when there was literally no evidence against her, was the biggest news story in Australia of the 1980s.
In 1980, the Chamberlains visit the monumental Ayers Rock in the outback. With the baby put to sleep in a tent, the family begins enjoying a nighttime barbeque when a cry is heard. Checking the tent, Lindy briefly glimpses a dingo slipping out of it and then, to her horror, finds Azaria missing from her bed.
No trace of the infant is found, and the conclusion appears to be that the dingo made off with her. Astonishingly, however, sentiment begins to grow throughout the country to the effect that Lindy killed her daughter. From there, the press can’t let the story die. Lindy is charged with murder and Michael named as accessory after the fact.
If one didn’t know who Meryl Streep is, one could easily guess Lindy was played by a fine, unknown Australian actress. Sam Neill, who here looks remarkably like the real Michael Chamberlain, well conveys the tentative strengths and very real weaknesses of a man thrust into an unimaginable situation.
1988: Nomination: Best Actress (Meryl Streep)