Featuring never-before-seen footage, this documentary delivers a startling new look at the Peoples Temple, headed by preacher Jim Jones who, in 1978, led more than 900 members to Guyana, where he orchestrated a mass suicide via tainted punch.
Reverend Jim Jones, the priest of an independent church in the South American country Guyana, orders his followers to commit suicide. But not all of them follow him blindly and begin to think on their own.
Based upon the true story of Reverend Jim Jones, a self-proclaimed prophet who founded the Peoples Temple. In the 1960s, he began as an idealist helping minorities and working against racism. After a move to San Francisco and increased power and attention, Jim Jones became focused on his belief in nuclear holocaust. He had a loyal following of over 1000 people, who had donated their entire life savings to him and to join his commune, before moving them to Guyana. When possible illegal activities came to the attention of the authorities, and once notified that some individuals are being held against their will, they began to investigate. Rather that face the charges against him, Jim Jones committed suicide, and convinced virtually most of his followers to do the same. Written by
Brian W Martz <B.Martz@Genie.com>
The dialogue used in the mass suicide/murder scene near the end of the film was taken almost word-for-word from an audiocassette found in a portable tape recorder under Jim Jones' chair. The tape recorder had weak batteries and was running at a much slower than normal speed, allowing the entire event to be recorded. See more »
Blank firing adapters can be clearly seen on the muzzles of all the AK assault rifles used by the guards. See more »
Just given the fact that it is based on the most infamous mass suicide incident of modern times would have been enough to give this 2-part 1980 made-for-TV film attention. But the fact is that it is a superb recreation of the life of the Rev. Jim Jones, who built a church into a virtual empire, and then encouraged it to disintegrate into a sleazy cult in which a Congressman and his entourage were assassinated, and 917 cult followers committed suicide by drinking Kool-Aid doused with cyanide.
Done very tastefully but horrifying enough, unlike the excruciatingly sadistic CULT OF THE DAMNED, GUYANA TRAGEDY features an all-star cast, including Ned Beatty (as Rep. Leo Ryan), Meg Foster, Randy Quaid, Brad Dourif, Brenda Vaccaro, LeVar Burton, and Madge Sinclair. But it is Powers Boothe (in his first big role) that really stands out as Jim Jones. He actually BECOMES the man, and his performance is riveting and chilling. Thus, it is no wonder that this film still manages to attract attention after more than twenty years.
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