The prospect of unjust imprisonment is a plight both easily imagined and terrifying, and we all wonder how we might fare in such a grim circumstance. No case in modern America illuminates this condition more completely than the story of Michael Morton. In 1986 his young wife Christine was brutally murdered in front of their only child, and he was accused and convicted of the crime, spending a quarter of a century in Texas prisons. Michael’s son Eric, only three at the time of his mother’s death, was raised by family members and eventually cut off all contact with the father he believed had killed his mother.
AN UNREAL DREAM is Michael’s story: the love he shared with Christine, his despair at her murder followed quickly by his shock at his own arrest, his conviction at the hands of a small-town jury influenced by a legendary sheriff and ambitious DA, the long prison years relieved only by new friendships and a profound spiritual experience, the difficult fight for his freedom.
New York’s Innocence Project, in partnership with John Raley, a Texas attorney working on his first ever criminal case, spent years fighting for DNA testing and investigating possible prosecutorial misconduct in Morton’s case. Twenty-five years after the murder, DNA analysis of a bloody blue bandana found near the crime scene not only cleared Morton, but yielded a hit on a known felon who has since been charged with the murder of Christine Morton, along with the murder of another young woman two years later.
Upon his release in late 2011, Michael riveted the outside world with his lack of bitterness or anger, as he instead focused his newfound freedom on fighting for legal justice reform and reaching out to his estranged son. His unreal dream was and is a powerful journey through despair and abandonment to a greater freedom than most of us know, but all can appreciate.
Michael Morton was released from prison in October 2011, and filming for “An Unreal Dream” began in June 2012.
The film follows Michael into the meanness, stress and grinding monotony of the Texas prison system. He is angry, bitter, filled with hatred. His son stops visiting, then stops writing, and at age 18, changes his last name. That’s when Michael finally breaks and cries out to God. The response, in a shower of grace, leaves him forever changed… The story, revealed in detail, makes for a riveting, inspiring and powerful film. At the end, a loving and peaceful Michael tells us: God exists, He is wise, He loves me…“if you know those three things, what’s your problem?”
-Light of Consciousness Magazine, Summer 2014
Director Al Reinert is a two-time Academy Award nominee, as a documentary filmmaker (FOR ALL MANKIND) and as a screenwriter (APOLLO 13). FOR ALL MANKIND won the documentary Jury and Audience Awards when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1989, subsequently receiving accolades from festivals worldwide.