Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple

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Overview

Produced for the PBS series American Experience, Stanley Nelson's Jonestown: The Life and Death of the Peoples' Temple, written by his frequent collaborator Marcia Smith, examines the infamous religious cult formed by Jim Jones and the events that led to the group's horrifying mass suicide in 1978. The film traces Jones' history from his unhappy childhood in rural Indiana. Witnesses describe a strange, charismatic young man who nursed a seemingly sincere desire for social justice, but also reputedly murdered ...
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Overview

Produced for the PBS series American Experience, Stanley Nelson's Jonestown: The Life and Death of the Peoples' Temple, written by his frequent collaborator Marcia Smith, examines the infamous religious cult formed by Jim Jones and the events that led to the group's horrifying mass suicide in 1978. The film traces Jones' history from his unhappy childhood in rural Indiana. Witnesses describe a strange, charismatic young man who nursed a seemingly sincere desire for social justice, but also reputedly murdered small animals as a child. Jones' desire to befriend people across color and class lines alienated his family and neighbors. Eventually, he moved to Indianapolis, where, as a young Pentecostal minister, he started the city's first integrated church. Eventually, Jones moved his church to California to escape the racism he perceived in Indiana. In Redwood Valley, his church took on a new life, and he began aggressively recruiting new members. At first, members were required to tithe a percentage of their worth, but eventually, they were expected to relinquish all of their "worldly goods" to the Temple. In 1974, Jones moved to San Francisco, where he acquired some political clout before his high profile caught up with him. Just before a damaging exposé was published, he moved his people to what was meant to be a "paradise" outside the racism and oppression of America, in Guyana. Nelson interviews eyewitnesses, including many former members of the Temple, and members of Congressman Leo Ryan's staff who managed to escape when the congressman's investigatory visit ended in bloodshed. The film had its world premiere at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; Deleted scenes; Interview with filmmaker Stanley Nelson
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/10/2007
  • UPC: 841887052269
  • Original Release: 2006
  • Rating:

  • Source: Pbs (Direct)
  • Region Code: 1
  • Time: 1:30:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Technical Credits
Stanley Nelson Director, Producer
Michael Chin Cinematographer
Sara Chin Sound/Sound Designer
Lewis Erskine Editor
Kristin Lesko Associate Producer
Tom Phillips Score Composer
Mark Samels Executive Producer
Mark K. Samuels Executive Producer
Marcia Smith Original Story, Screenwriter
Aljernon Tunsil Editor
Noland Walker Co-producer, Screenwriter
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- American Experience: Jonestown - The Life and Death of Peoples Temple
2. A Vision Gone Wrong [2:16]
3. Members Flock to Peoples Temple [4:56]
4. A Troubled Childhood [6:39]
5. Spreading His Word [7:49]
6. The Dark Side of Jim Jones [11:35]
7. Political Power and Paranoia [6:35]
8. A Dysfunctional Family [7:58]
9. No Way Out [9:33]
10. Congressman Ryan's Arrival [6:00]
11. The Last Day [18:58]
12. Credits [3:21]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- American Experience: Jonestown - The Life and Death of Peoples Temple
   Play Movie
   Scene Selections
   Special Features
      Deleted Scenes
         Tim Carter's Escape From Jonestown
         Stanley Clayton's Escape From Jonestown
         Surviving the Tarmac Shooting
         The Aftermath for Survivors
         Annie and Carolyn Moore: Advisors to Jim Jones
         Christine Miller, November 18, 1978
         Mr. Muggs: Jim Jones' Pet Chimpanzee
         John Victor Stoen: The Boy in the Middle
         Jonestown Testimonials: Additional Footage From Jonestown 1977-1978
      Interview With Filmmaker Stanley Nelson
   PBS.org
   American Experience
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Customer Reviews

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    Posted March 14, 2009

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