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Waco: The Rules of Engagement (1997)

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This controversial documentary about the stand-off between an unorthodox Christian group - the Branch Davidians, under the leadership of the young, charismatic David Koresh - and the FBI ... See full summary »

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Title: Waco: The Rules of Engagement (1997)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Clive Doyle ...
Himself - Branch Davidian
Jack Harwell ...
Himself - Sheriff
Dick J. Reavis ...
Himself - Author
James D. Tabor ...
Himself - Biblical Scholar
David Thibodeau ...
Himself - Branch Davidian
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Storyline

This controversial documentary about the stand-off between an unorthodox Christian group - the Branch Davidians, under the leadership of the young, charismatic David Koresh - and the FBI and ATF in Waco, Texas, from February to April 1993 presents a different spin on the events from that of the United States government, which held that the Branch Davidians set the fire that destroyed their compound, and killed the vast majority of them, on April 19, 1993. Using footage from the 51 day siege, from the congressional hearings afterwards, from people involved in all aspects of the siege, and from experts technical, psychological, and religious, the movie suggests that the Branch Davidians were not a cult, but a valid religious group practicing under First Amendment freedoms who fell victim to first the ineptitude of an ATF raid designed to garner the agency positive attention and later the cruel, methodical work of the FBI, who over-saw the murder of the Davidians and then quickly covered... Written by Gary Dickerson <slug@mail.utexas.edu>

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branch davidian | atf | fbi | texas | fire | See All (78) »


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19 September 1997 (USA)  »

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Referenced in Men in Black II (2002) See more »

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The film someone had to make. Yes, it's biased - it's kind of hard not to be in light of the evidence.
24 May 2009 | by (the heartland) – See all my reviews

The film someone had to make.

Waco: The Rules of Engagement dissects the evidence behind the standoff in Waco, Texas that led to the destruction of the Branch Davidian homestead and the alleged government cover-up.

The first thing you need to know about this film: you will see brief but disturbing photos of the victims bodies. This is not done for shock value, but to illustrate points about the way they died, as if you were present at the coroner's inquest.

The second thing you should know about this film: at two and a quarter hours, it's pretty ponderous - especially if you already followed the events closely at the time. If you are unaware of any of the events other than what was reported in the mass media, or if the only side of the story you are familiar with is the official government report, this may be essential viewing. If, on the other hand you want a more concise (albeit unapologetically one sided) version of events, you should see "Waco: The Big Lie".

In summary, this is pretty much the definitive documentary about this tragic event, and is very sobering, but as a work of film-making, could test your patience, especially if you have a short attention span. And it's at times superfluous for those who watched the CSPAN hearings and the 60 Minutes reports.

Perhaps someday someone will make a documentary that covers some of the stranger aspects of this story, such as the bizarre chain of events that led up to the ATF raid or the psychological warfare tactics the FBI used blasting rock music at the sect, and their charismatic leaders (all rock musicians themselves) picking up their instruments and turning their massive amplifiers outward to blast their own music right back at them.


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