The Netflix production line of comprehensive documentaries on fascinating stories continues with this six-part study of Rajneeshpuram and its expansion from an obscure Indian following to a world-wide “cult”.
What the Duplass Brothers (“Togetherness”, “Animals”, “Safety Not Guaranteed”) have produced is an encyclopaedic study of the ‘religion’ and its origins, its polarising leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (né Osho) and his controversial spokesman/ secretary Ma Anand Sheela.
When the decision is made by their leader and spokesman to flee India for the more docile and rural living offered by Wasco County, Oregon a conflict ensues between the local residents and the Rajneeshpuram followers who end up creating their own town, infrastructure and society. It is this society which the American Media and later the County, Federal Authorities and the Reagan Administration itself begins to fear and investigate in light of the lessons learnt from Jonestown. As events unfold, we become witness wire-tappings, mass poisonings, failed assassination attempts and federal extradition on a scale never witnessed before, or since, in US society.
The Directors, Maclain & Chapman Way, blend their story telling perfectly with a seemingly unlimited archive of footage from both sides at their disposal, cross-referenced and corroborated with present-day critical witness interviews from all those affected. It’s a fascinating journey and one that, given I was a child of the 80s, I wasn’t aware of, especially the scale of how this impacted America and the world at the time (it was apparently debated who was the more well-known woman; Princess Diana or Ma Anand!).
It’s becoming all too apparent that Netflix are becoming THE market leaders at providing high quality long form documentary story telling of both the well-known and the obscure. The amount of work that has gone into it is clear onscreen. Essential viewing.
Watch this if you liked: “Waco: The Rules Of Engagement”, “Jonestown: Paradise Lost”