Jonestown: Paradise Lost (2007)

DailyView: Day 350, Movie 498

Day 350 of the year-long DailyView has arrived and I make it with a documentary/historical drama of one of the great tragedies of human memory: the mass suicide (and murder) at Jonestown by cult leader Jim Jones where over 950 people, whether voluntarily or by force, drank poisoned Kool-Aid or were injected by poison. That number included around 300 children.

This documentary included some of the actual videos and tapes of Jim Jones and his followers, interviews with the few survivors and escapees, and reenactments of the last days of the cult.

While some of the reenactments were not necessarily the greatest acting, there is enough horrendous moments included here that make this a challenging watch.

The story of what happened at the People’s Temple was both fascinating and horrific. The tragedy only amplified by the use of the real pictures and words of some of the victims.

In particular, the words of Jim Jones’s own son, Stephan Jones, about his memories of the time and of his father’s psychosis.

Even with the iffy dramatization, the story was emotional and powerful to watch. It is amazing how someone can talk people into doing what he wants them to do, whether or not it is in their best interest. Especially when we are talking about walking your children up and having them take poison and watching them die, some times in painful ways.

This is a lesson to us all about charismatic leaders and to be wary of those who may not be completely stable.

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