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Although some of the former members dismiss the term cult when referring to the Rajneesh movement, it undoubtedly shows a range of similarities to what might be referred to as a cult. Nonetheless the documentary series Wild Wild Country proofed surprisingly succesful in offering insights that go beyond the taboos and stigmas normally surrounding the subject. Clearly the Rajneesh movement was something that the world had not seen before and the world, perhaps, hasn't seen since.
Focussing around the Indian guru Rajneesh, later known as Osho, the documentary starts off by exploring the very beginning of the movement. Its unorthodox teachings, controversial beliefs as well as its international reach slowly unfold during the first episode of the documentary series. Gradually the focus of the documentary however shifts towards the individuals who circulated within the inner circles of the movement. This inevitably transforms the documentary into an exposition of 'the individual as part of a cult' rather than an exploration of the deeper beliefs of the movement (which at times seem contradictory).
Nonetheless the documentary continues to captivate the viewer as opposition against the movement arises during the cults relocation in Oregon. It is here where the movement encounters more and more opposition which in return fuels the hostility from members towards outsiders. It is not unlike patterns we've seen with cults like the church of Scientology and the Peoples Temple where, once a stark contrast between in- and outsiders has been established, a cult turns violent. The documentary manages to explore the depths of the criminal activities in which the Rajneesh movement was involved without overtly (or excessively) steering its viewers towards a certain point of view. The result is a story that shocks without excessive dramatization.
What makes this documentary worthwhile is the way the story unfolds. Although spread over six different episodes the documentary could be seen as one climactic film in which tension continues to build until it has reached its inevitable climax. Surprisingly the documentary does not necessarily leave one to wonder how people could ever be part of the group, for it also displays the movements admirable qualities. Rather it leaves you to ask how knowledge about the Rajneesh movement could have been absent for you prior to watching the documentary series. If this is the case indeed, then this is a must-watch.
To me personally the appeal of the movements leader remains unclear. This ofcourse could be explained by the lack of insights the documentary offers regarding his background and the very origine of the movement. So yes, the documentary will leave you with many questions. But rather than leaving you with the illusion of presenting the full story, the documentary ignites within you a thirst for knowledge. I guess that is exactly what one might demand from documentaries: the desire to know more.
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