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Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones (1980)

The real-life story of the Peoples Temple cult led by Reverend Jim Jones and the events involving its move to Guyana and its eventual mass suicide.

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Writers:

(teleplay), (book)
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Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 4 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Alice Jefferson
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Marceline 'Marcy' Jones
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Jenny Hammond
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Jean Richie
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Linda Haynes ...
Karen Bundy
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Lynette Jones
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Col. Robles
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Clayton Ritchie
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Sheila Langtree
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Storyline

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>

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The shocking true story written in blood!! See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

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Release Date:

5 January 1982 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Guyana Tragedy: The Jim Jones Story  »

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(CFI)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

Blank firing adapters can be clearly seen on the muzzles of all the AK assault rifles used by the guards. See more »

Connections

References Elmer Gantry (1960) See more »

Soundtracks

Welcome
Performed by the People's Temple Choir
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User Reviews

Powers Boothe's Tour de Force
27 July 2002 | by (Richland, WA) – See all my reviews

Certainly this is the best work Powers Boothe has done and he deservedly got an Emmy for it. As an aside, I can recall the awards night because there was a Screen Actors Guild strike or something and nearly all of the nominees failed to attend the ceremonies. But when Boothe's name was called out as a winner, he defiantly strode up to the podium to get his trophy.

People may want to read the book "Raven" which is a biography about Rev. Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple; this TV movie can only scratch the surface of the demonic goings-on in the Temple without demanding more censorship than a TV show could allow, at least back then.

Boothe is hypnotic as Jim Jones and you get the sense that he wasn't always whacked out and loony. A particularly good scene is when Jones stands in front of an abandoned synagogue in the black-ghetto part of town. The only white man there, he's soon surrounded by obviously skeptical blacks. "Will you pray with me?" Jones asks, and the bystanders do as Jones gives a heartfelt prayer that God will lift their burdens. The bystanders are impressed and in a short time the Peoples Temple is prospering.

Boothe perfectly recreates the candence and timbre of Jones' preaching and phony faith-healing and his lustful disposition towards the women of his congregation. Jones's sexual exploits don't end there and he later has an affair with drug-addicted Brad Dourif, as well (in fact, Jones had sex with plenty of his male followers). The end of the movie where the cult members all commit suicide is very frightening. All the more so because nearly all of the dialogue is exactly what was spoken---Jones had been tape recording his harangues and the tape ended probably not long before he was killed himself. By the way, Jones never took the cynanide-laced kool-aid, he was shot which led many to believe that Jones had no intention of going off into the hereafter but was planning his escape when one of henchmen decided to have Jones join his "flock".


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