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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)

Waco: The Rules of Engagement (1997) on IMDb 8.1/10

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Dan Gifford ...
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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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 | fire | texas | See more »


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19 September 1997 (USA)  »

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One of the Best Documentaries!!
25 August 1999 | by (Tampa) – See all my reviews

Rules of Engagement is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. It is well constructed, superbly pieced together, and provides excellent footage to back up the assertions that it takes on. The movie's best quality is that it is not based on being sympathetic to the Dividians as much as it enlightens the audience to the blatant governmental mistakes and lies that surrounded the entire situation. I'm left with feelings of disturbing anxiety and extreme anger over the way that the government handled and then covered up a tragedy of this magnitude. The cover up is what left me really fuming. It is one thing to make a mistake in an operation and admit guilt, but another to look the American people squarely in the eye and lie to them. I guess it shouldn't surprise me with the history of our beloved country that has seen the JFK assassination, the Vietnam War, and other significant events that smell so bad of a cover up that you have to hold your nose every time you drive through Washington D.C. The footage from an airplane with special heat sensing technology and the autopsies on some of the bodies clearly show that the FBI is lying to the public. One of the things that I try to stay aware of when watching a documentary such as this is that I am usually only receiving testimony from one point of view. But again, that is without a doubt one of the brilliant successes of Rules of Engagement. It presents its evidence in such a concluding fashion that even if you were presented with statements from the FBI how could you really believe them. I remember clearly when the standoff was taking place the way the media presented the Dividians as this crazed group of cult rebels with David Koresh, the self professed reborn Jesus Christ, as their leader. None of this was truly factual but rather story spun from bits and pieces of facts. They were simply standing up for there rights to bear arms and practice their religion as American Citizens. If you were the ATF and you wanted to search the compound is attacking the building with a unit of men who are armed with rifles and bullet proof suits the way to go about doing it? If you are the FBI why engage in psychological warfare and offer little in actual negotiation to help solve the situation? Why pour gallons of harmful gas if you want to save children? Why open large holes within the compound structure when you know the possibility of starting a fire? Why lie about not firing weapons when it can be clearly shown on video? Unless. Unless you wanted to see the situation end up the way it did. The scene at the end when the Dividians Star of David flag blew off the flagpole into the fire and the ATF's was shortly thereafter raised up was an emotional climatic scene that made my head shake in disgust and my stomach turn uncontrollably. The filmmaker William Gazecki deserves one my highest congratulations. It takes a lot of guts to make a movie like this and I am sure there have been many repercussions from the government for it as well. Because of people like him the public can be shown real truth rather than crap that gets filtered through a media that presents information that can hardly be considered genuine. When I think back to how I felt at the time toward the Dividians because of the media's representation of David Koresh and how I felt after seeing this movie it is truly amazing. It reminds me of the line from the bible of a man who was healed by Jesus and asked by the elders how it happened "before I was blind but now I can see" he kept telling them. Do yourself a favor and watch this movie. You may have to look for it but it is truly something special.


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