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.
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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.
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This horrific dramatization of the Guyana tragedy traces the steps of Reverend Jim Jones, a highly charismatic, but profoundly paranoid clergyman, who after years of evangelism and good deeds, begins his own church in the mid-western United States. When Jim Jones becomes increasingly obsessed with the belief that the CIA is "a wicked enemy" who is out to get him, he emigrates with his congregation to Guyana, where he plans to create a utopia. But Jim Jones' utopia consists of a society where he demands his followers turn their minds, bodies and possessions over to him, one that is rife with orgies, physical violence, mental torture, and sexual abuse of children and adults. Ultimately, Jim Jones' paranoia reaches a fevered pitch that culminates in him taking savage action against his own congregation. Written by
VCI Home Video
I have to admit that ever since I first heard about this cult I've been terribly interested in knowing just what the tag line of the movie implies that this movie tells you: The Truth Behind the most shocking crime of the century. This movie did everything but fulfill its' promise.
We get introduced to the cult in an opening scene with Reverend James Johnson, the leader of the cult, preaching in a church. He explains that they have gotten a piece of land by the "friendly socialists" in Guyana where they will establish a religious community. This is a key sentence, because the connection between Johnson and socialism becomes established over and over again. For example, in the "Johnsontown agricultural project", they listen to a woman that is trying to teach them Russian while they are working. Later in the movie, the U.S. Ambassador calls Johnson a socialist.
I think that the movie was made too soon after the incident to have any perspective. I was bewildered by the ignorance of the director that actually believed he could get any real insight in the event when not even a year had passed since! He tried and failed miserably, as far as I'm concerned. This movie is not even trying to tell the truth. The director is making almost desperate efforts to draw parallels between "suicide cults" and "socialists" using the infamous "guilt by association" method. I think that this is a very interesting movie if you watch it from that perspective - and bear in mind the echoes of the cold war. If you're trying to get to know what happened - look elsewhere.
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