Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple

Stanley Nelson (The Murder of Emmett Till) revisits the 1978 mass suicide of Jim Jones and his flock in Guyana, savoring the horror but offering no new insights. Jones grew up a Pentecostal before launching the racially integrated Peoples Temple in Indiana; the church bounced from there to California to Guyana as Jones's megalomania grew more pronounced. Nelson includes chilling videotape shot in Jonestown during the fateful visit of Congressman Leo Ryan, who was killed by Jones's gunmen before he could return to the U.S., and audiotape of the pandemonium as Jones exhorted his flock to drink Kool-Aid laced with cyanide. But there's no reason to retell this story except perhaps to locate the cult on the larger fundamentalist fringe, and because this was produced for PBS, that probably wasn't an option. 86 min.

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