By Dave B.
Have you ever learned something that you can’t believe that you (nor apparently anyone else that you associate with) didn’t know? Pure shock. That’s the feeling that the Netflix documentary, Wild Wild Country, will leave you with. Possibly for days.
The six-part documentary tells the harrowing, and frankly unbelievable (but true), story of the Rajneesh cult from it’s beginnings in India through the fall of its “holy land” compound in Oregon. It’s difficult to give an overview of what happens in Wild Wild Country, without diminishing the shock value for viewers. However, there are some important things to know. First, the Rajneeshees, under the leadership of their charismatic guru and his psychopathically effective lieutenant, encountered a high degree of bigotry and resistance to their plans of setting up a utopian city in Oregon. Then the Rajnesshees responded with a ruthlessness rarely seen in modern American history, and that ultimately sowed the seeds of their downfall.
There are two major flaws with Wild Wild Country. The first is that it is about twice as long as it needs to be. Documentaries lose some of their impact when you are continuously waiting for them to get to the point. The second is that, in an attempt to be even-handed in their coverage of the story, the documentarians appear to be attempting to illicit sympathy for people who are, quite frankly, terrible.
Wild Wild Country is compelling, I admit. Not only because of the actions of all involved, but also because these events happened during my own lifetime. But there are no heroes in this story. Nearly everyone involved deserves to be reviled in one way or another. The only empathy I could muster was for the dream of a utopian, materialistic freedom that the Rajneeshees allegedly believed in.
I’m glad that I saw this. It brings to light events and beliefs that every American should be made aware of. The fact that this story ISN’T more widely known, should be regarded as a travesty. But ultimately, the documentary left me feeling empty because both the Rajneeshees and their persecutors are not deserving of our emotional resources.
Wild Wild Country is a must-watch documentary series, but don’t go into it expecting a moving experience. See it because, hopefully, doing so will make you a better citizen and a better person. 6.5/10