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 ...
See full summary »
A charismatic leader founds a commune in Los Angeles in the early '70s based on natural food, spiritual practices and psychedelic rock. This short-lived era is recreated with archival material and the memories of participants.
Michael Travesser says he's the Messiah and that God has told him the world will end with an apocalyptic event at midnight on 31 October 2007. As leader of a cult in a remote corner of New ... See full summary »
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.
When Warren Jeffs rose to Prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, he took control of a religion with a history of polygamous and underage marriage. In a short time, ... See full summary »
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?"
You might not remember the name James Arthur Ray, but you certainly remember the story: three people died in Sedona, Arizona during a "sweat lodge ceremony", which was part of some sort of very expensive "self help" workshop. James Ray was the self help guru who organized the workshop and was sentenced to two years in prison for negligent homicide as a result of the deaths.
The documentary follows Ray's attempt at a "comeback" after being released from prison, with flashes back to the story of his life and career, culminating in the deaths at Sedona and his trial and sentencing.
The story is presented completely without narration or commentary, but as another reviewer said, the makers are very good at "giving Ray enough rope to hang himself" - which he is only too happy to do.
I've always felt there's a blurry line between self-help gurus and religious cult leaders, an Ray unquestionably left that line in the rear view mirror. I tend to be very cynical about these things, but even I was shocked at what an unapologetic, narcissistic sociopath Ray is. He can whip up crocodile tears over the deaths when it serves his purpose: as part of his show, in front of the judge, etc, but in the one-on-one interviews, he doesn't even pretend to have the least remorse. I'm not even talking about taking responsibility (which he never does); I'm talking about simply feeling bad that three people died in an activity that he organized. Other people involved in the event, even peripherally, were genuinely distraught over what happened, but Ray only sees things in the context of the effect it had on his career. He seems to honestly believe that he was the ultimate victim of what happened, and after his release from prison, the whole incident has simply become a prop for his comeback tour - which, amazingly, is still finding a paying audience!
I'm not someone who could ever fall for this sort of thing, but if you or a loved one are at all susceptible to this type of manipulation and control, I really recommend you watch this, and pay close attention to the audio tapes from the "Spiritual Warrior" workshop that led to the deaths. By then Ray was clearly drunk with his own power over people. He even made them shave their heads just to demonstrate his dominance. Maybe this documentary will help people recognize the warning signs, and look for the exits, before they do something stupid.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this