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

15 Jan

Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple review
On November 18 1978 a total of 909 people committed mass suicide (or were mass murdered depending how you look at it) in Jonestown in Guyana. Their leader Jim Jones was the founder of the Peoples’ Temple. This documentary looks into its creation and the history of its founder and which events lead to this horrible event.

As with many of these shocking events you always wonder how one man can lead many to these extremes. In that respect this documentary makes it very clear that before the group ended up in Jonestown it was a pretty good group to belong to. It made no difference within the Temple where you came from, how much money you had or who you were. People wanted to be part of it and Jones even actively recruited new people by touring in busses around the country. He actually did a lot of good things, fighting against discrimination and improving life for its members. He even had political involvement helping in getting a mayor elected as he could quickly mobilise big groups to support someone. He had public support and met with a lot of politicians.

As time progressed his ideas started to become more extreme and he started pushing and testing his people. In the movie there is a story where he had everyone drink something and afterwards told them it was poisoned (even if it wasn’t). It was a test for him to see how much faith people had in him.

This documentary consists of lots of archival footage, but also has interviews with the people who survived the mass suicide. Hearing their stories is gut wrenching with some people losing everyone they knew. Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple is very informative if you don’t know much about this group. It looks at this sad and shocking part of history and it’s worth checking out.

Score: 9

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