• FTC

Wild Wild Country

Updated: 5 days ago

(available on Netflix)

Warning: Nudity

FTC Rating: 3.5 out of 5


In 1981, the sleepy American town of Antelope wakes to find a new neighbor undertaking a massive construction project, the creation of self-sufficient commune led by Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Soon thereafter, thousands of “Rajneeshees” seeking spiritual enlightenment arrive from all over the world and quickly outnumber the local population. With the events of Jonestown still fresh in the minds of Americans, rumors circulate in Oregon about the group’s intentions. Both sides begin taking steps in the media, the political arena, and the courts to secure their way of life, while others instead resort to vigilantism to advance their positions. The events which follow are truly bizarre and unbelievable, positioning the six-part docuseries as a must-watch for true crime aficionados.


Strengths

- A plethora of historical footage is presented in a compelling fashion

- Reveals the good, bad, and ugly aspects of the story through interviews with multiple stakeholders

- Fascinating twists and turns

- Sparks interesting debates about the freedom of religion, immigration, and the abuse of power by the American Government


Weaknesses:

- Did not provide background on Bhagwan outside of what is presented by group members. His upbringing and early journey remain a mystery to viewers.

- Although there are multiple interviews with Rajneeshees, filmmakers limited clips to the key/important individuals within the group. It would have been interesting to hear contemporary opinions from participants outside the inner circle.

- Oddly, the docuseries does not paint a clear picture of the crimes and charges brought forward, for example, the responsible party for the bombing of the Rajneesh Hotel in Portland is not releveled.


Final Thoughts

- Further research by FTC into the subject revealed accusations by former group members of physical and sexual abuse during their time in the commune, including a book by Wild Wild Country interviewee Jane Stork entitled “Breaking the Spell”. I wonder if these accusations were discredited by filmmakers or purposefully omitted so the Rajneeshees appear more sympathetic.

- For those seeking a little levity, here is a link to the SNL skit based on the docuseries: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ge9cebaVNg

Picture source: https://www.interviewmagazine.com/film/dave-franco-recommends-wild-wild-country



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