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?"
There are two categories of documentaries for me. Ones I have heard about the events but want an in depth picture of what happened or stories I have never heard of. This was the former. I had seen this story before but not this detailed. Mostly because you hear from the man himself. At first you think documentarians are there to tell his story in a sympathetic light, but as you watch you realize that is not the case at all.
The craftiness of this film is that they don't have to call out James Ray as a charlatan, a hypocrite, a narcissist. He does that for them, the more you watch and listen the more he buries himself. It was in parts fascinating and infuriating. The fascination was in the subtlety of letting the viewer draw their own conclusion without having to state the conclusion of his character outright. It was infuriating to see this man who had a clear hand in the death of three people never take responsibility for it unless it was for profit. It was only on stage at his new attempts to rebuild his career as a self help guru that he ever even mentioned those who died, the tragedy of it, or claimed any responsibility. In all of his interviews he never did that. It is a glaring omission that is enlightening on just who he is while serving as a warning. Don't believe the facade of humility and sincerity. Because while he said over and over he wanted to help people, it's clear he only wanted to help himself.
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