Director: William A. Graham
Starring: Powers Boothe, Ned Beatty, Irene Cara, Veronica Cartwright, Rosalind Cash
The shocking true story written in blood!
The greatest tragedies of mankind makes for great entertainment. It’s very macabre to admit, but I guess it is part of our nature. We seem to love films that are based on tragedies, and I can easily mention films such as Titanic, Mississippi Burning and let’s not forget all the movies based on real life wars or serial killers that has been made. There’s also a lot of movies about possible future tragedies such as disaster movies and even alien invasion movies that all play on the same concept that something bad can happen to us and that triggers our morbid curiosities.
So a movie about Jim Jones will automatically be interesting to most of us. The charismatic leader of the People’s Temple is behind one of the biggest horrific tragedies of newer time. His 909 followers (including around 200 children) took cyanide to end their lives on November 18, 1978. This was the biggest loss of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster until the events of September 11, 2001.
Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones is a mini-series in two parts starring Power Boothe as Jim Jones. It’s a look at his transition from a good christian with great intentions to a power and drug abuser who gets caught up in his own mind and paranoia.
We see his childhood where he is raised by his mother and his racist father who assumingly was a member of the KKK. His biggest influence was his nanny who taught him the word of God. which became his escape from the horrors of daily life. He started to dedicate his future to serve God and his ultimate goal was to become a reverend. When he was fired from his church for accepting black people into his congregation he started his own church – The People’s Temple. Everything went well at the start and the work and mission of the church was quite commendable.
The more people who join him, the more we see him believing his own hype and it doesn’t take long before he starts to abuse his power. It’s fascinating to watch Powers Boothe (Sin City, Red Dawn and Cruising) doing a great job at portraying Jim Jones. Joining Boothe is Ned Beatty, Irene Cara, Veronica Cartwright and even a young Brad Dourif, all delivering great performances.
The entire production is very well done, it’s surprising that this is only made for TV. Director William A. Graham (he has done around 100 movies and even some episodes of the X-Files in newer time) does a fantastic job with the look of the film. I doubt anyone would be able to do recreate the atmosphere from the movie today. The same praise should also be given to Elmer Bernstein who did the score, which is wonderful done.
The last ten minutes of the movie is haunting and will send shivers down your spine, especially since it’s based on the audio recordings that were found afterwards. This is what you can call a true horror movie and it’s simply an excellent movie and portrait of a fascinating person.