Example 5 - Experiencing Peoples Temple through Jonestown:...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Experiencing Peoples Temple through Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple The film Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple 1 opens with the voice of Deborah Layton, a former member. She says, “Nobody joins a cult. Nobody joins something they think is going to hurt them.” 2 Her words help to put in perspective the view that many people have of the Jonestown tragedy today. On November 18, 1978, 909 members of the Peoples Temple died in the Jonestown settlement in Guyana, poisoned by cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. 3 The Peoples Temple began in the early 1950s with Jim Jones, its charismatic and deeply troubled leader, who gathered a following of thousands over the years leading up to the tragedy. Looking back on the events at Jonestown, it is easy to see the Peoples Temple as simply a cult led by a paranoid and manipulative madman. The members appear fanatic and nearly brainwashed, and it can be difficult to believe how they were ever convinced to travel to a remote South American jungle with an unstable individual like Jim Jones. The film faces the challenge of tearing away the preconceptions of the events that viewers might begin with, and then providing them with an experience that could reshape their views of the Peoples Temple and its members. Jonestown attempts to strip away the ideas that viewers might have about Peoples Temple when they sit down to watch the film. By presenting the events in chronological order, changing tone at critical points, and by providing the information to the reader through first person accounts and archival footage, Jonestown successfully takes the viewer through the experience of being a Peoples Temple member. From the movement’s 1 Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, DVD. Directed by Stanley Nelson. (WGBH Educational Foundation, 2007). 2 Ibid. 3 Ibid. 1
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
beginnings in Indiana, when the message was all about acceptance and devotion, to the last minutes in Guyana when whole families lay dead on the paths at Jonestown, the film keeps the viewer trapped within the perspectives of those who lived it themselves. By doing so, the viewer is meant to feel the same emotions that the members themselves felt as the movement progressed, ultimately allowing the viewer a more complete understanding of the motivations and true experiences behind the controversial and tragic events that occurred in the Peoples Temple. The film’s chronological progression may seem like an obvious choice, but it
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 03/24/2009 for the course WRITING 060.113.20 taught by Professor Moran during the Spring '09 term at Johns Hopkins.

Page1 / 6

Example 5 - Experiencing Peoples Temple through Jonestown:...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online