Lizzie Borden Took An Ax may aim to be entertaining, but the Lifetime re-telling of the famous 1892 ax murders isn’t exactly historically accurate.
The movie stars Christina Ricci as an attractive but deeply troubled young woman, made famous in the dark children’s verse “Lizzie Borden Took An Ax.” Lizzie discovered the bodies of Andrew and Abby Borden on a hot August day in Fall River, Massachusetts, their bodies hacked to pieces and their heads bisected.
Lizzie Borden, the daughter of Andrew and stepdaughter of Abby, was eventually charged with their murders but acquitted after a headline-grabbing trial.
The story of the real-life Lizzie Borden has since become something of a legend, which is exactly where the Lifetime movie picks up. The film operates from the premise that Lizzie was indeed responsible for the murders, and invents a back story for the young woman as a repressed psycho.
Lizzie Borden Took An Ax takes liberties with Lizzie’s parents, painting them not as warm caregivers but instead cold and unloving toward Lizzie.
Lizzie Borden Took An Ax also added some cinematic splashes that don’t jive with history, showing Lizzie strip down before murdering her parents.
“I’m interested in people who are troubled. Their behavior comes from their neuroses. I loved the idea of living inside someone so villainous and trying to express the person everyone can relate to,” Ricci said.
Ricci added that she has no doubt the young woman was responsible for the murders.
“[Lizzie Borden] was guilty, but the jury couldn’t see their way to convict her. Very little is known about what went on in the family, but obviously she was a very troubled girl. You don’t kill your parents if you’re happy.”
While Ricci is right that not many details are known, that didn’t stop Lizzie Borden Took An Ax from filling in the blanks with some Hollywood pizzazz.