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Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple (2006)

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1:56 | Trailer
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.

Director:

Stanley Nelson

Writers:

Marcia Smith (story), Marcia Smith (teleplay) | 1 more credit »
1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Rebecca Moore Rebecca Moore ... Herself
Janet Shular Janet Shular ... Herself
Tim Carter Tim Carter ... Himself
Stanley Clayton Stanley Clayton ... Himself
Hue Fortson Jr. Hue Fortson Jr. ... Himself
Garrett Lambrev Garrett Lambrev ... Himself
Claire Janaro Claire Janaro ... Herself
Neva Sly Hargrave Neva Sly Hargrave ... Herself
Deborah Layton Deborah Layton ... Herself
Phyllis Wilmore Zimmerman Phyllis Wilmore Zimmerman ... Herself
Chuck Wilmore Chuck Wilmore ... Himself
John R. Hall John R. Hall ... Himself
Tim Reiterman Tim Reiterman ... Himself
June Cordell June Cordell ... Herself
Eugene Cordell Eugene Cordell ... Himself
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Storyline

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.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 April 2006 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dödens tempel See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,482, 20 October 2006, Limited Release
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Firelight Media Inc. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Deborah Layton: [on Jim Jones's brainwashing of his followers at Jonestown] Every night at some point, his voice would come over the loudspeaker, and he'd say, "I'm sending somebody out tonight. Somebody you know. Somebody you trust. And they're gonna act like they wanna leave. But this is a loyalty test, and you need to turn them in."
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Good Dick (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

He's Able
Performed by the People's Temple Choir
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User Reviews

 
Very decent documentary, but not genius
31 October 2007 | by hannasdeliSee all my reviews

This is one of these stories that can be revisited over and over again while trying to understand what actually happened. What are the reasons that make people do horrible things without really wanting or understanding why do they do them. It is a film about collective delusion and manipulation... or maybe it is a film about fear and uncertainty towards life?

Well, I wish I could answer these questions after this documentary. But I can't, because despite it's very acceptable technical quality, the choice of a chronological narration doesn't do much to add depth to a character larger than life as Jim Jones was.

The film did a lot to enlighten me in the origins of the church, it's racial integration and also its claims against social inequality. But the character itself remains a mystery to me. His motivations, the techniques he used to control his followers. It is all depicted very lightly and without much intellectual depth. There are moments when some of the cult followers say things about Jones that could be further explored, but unfortunately the director chooses to leave them as nearly an anecdote.

And this is what I think it is the biggest concern I have against this very interesting film. The narration makes Jones appear as an eccentric egomaniac. But the truth is that one hints there was so much more in his plans. It is just not plausible that he just made up the mass suicide- murder idea on the go. There is something utterly well thought out about how everything happened. This is pure evil at work, not very different to the Jew extermination by the Nazis. There was a plan, and I am sure that in this case there was a very well laid out plan. But the film makes it all appear almost as random as the weather.

It is a pity, because the archive footage is varied and excellent. But I can't help but wonder what Errol Morris would have done of this film. Probably a masterpiece, because he would have made what he does best: Portray characters with total precision.

Still, an interesting documentary to watch.


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