ENLIGHTEN US: THE RISE AND FALL OF JAMES ARTHUR RAY is the story of the motivational rock star's meteoric rise, fall and return to the $11 billion self-help industry after his negligent ...
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ENLIGHTEN US: THE RISE AND FALL OF JAMES ARTHUR RAY is the story of the motivational rock star's meteoric rise, fall and return to the $11 billion self-help industry after his negligent homicide conviction in the death of three clients at a sweat lodge at one of his events. As this story unfolds, we learn from Ray, his followers and his accusers, about how their methods of self-improvement ultimately caused so much suffering. ENLIGHTEN US asks the important questions, "What are we looking for" and "Who has the answers" and even the simple question "Why?"
Infuriating, fascinating story of the fall of a sociopath
Caught this on Netflix, and I was surprised to see that this film had zero reviews. Ostensibly this is the story of the rise and fall of James Arthur Ray, the self-help guru who saw his star crash to the ground when 3 people were killed in a sweat-lodge at his costly motivation retreat. He served time in prison and is aching for his "comeback" (as he says at one point in the film), so he can land his book deal, and move on with his life. The documentary follows him around as he goes to middling speaking tours, pushing people to sign on for further talks and wonders what happened to all the people he helped, where they disappeared after his fall. But the film is also incredibly sly about what it is doing, which is let this unbelievably self-delusional man talk as he justifies his actions, his life and molds the incident into an "experience" that made him stronger while taking no responsibility for it. The more he talks, the tighter the noose gets. The film literally ends with him making the figure three with hand while saying "I'm responsible", and then in the next sentence blame someone else for the deaths. The film is also fascinating when it locates James Arthur Ray in the self- help/motivation landscape that is almost unique to America, the nitty gritty look of the self-help industry-the book deals, the Oprah recommendation, the economics of it all is actually quiet fascinating. It also spends time on how someone like him to could rise and take advantage of deep-seated insecurities and difficult times of the people who may or may not be getting help. This was a really great story told really well.
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