Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Six Degrees of Helter Skelter (2009)

This is one of those movies I own because it came with a pack that included a movie I actually wanted (in this case, The Hole). It's a documentary on the Charles Manson murders, but it's one that's been produced by one of those 'gruesome history' tour operators, so it definitely goes the populist approach. There's lots of 'behind this gate is the property where ...' and 'we're here in this street on the actual anniversary of the murders'. When the film isn't operating as a cinematic version of one of the production company's tours, though, it's quite interesting. Manson was a deeply messed up guy, with some deeply messed up beliefs. That's obviously pretty common knowledge, but I was not aware of his theories of the approaching racial war (I guess these days he'd be a conservative pundit on talk back radio *rimshot*), or that he was twice arrested for unrelated crimes before the police finally connected his 'family' to the murders they had committed, or that he spent some time living in the house of one of the Beach Boys.

Given its subject matter, and its over-fondness for trivial stuff like pointing off screen and saying 'everything went down just around the corner', I certainly wouldn't recommend this movie to a wide audience. It's definitely a film where all you have to do is describe the subject matter for most people to know if they'd be interested in it or not. For my case, it had just enough information to make me interested to know more, so I can perhaps come to some kind of understanding as to how he was able to have people commit murders for him (the actual acts of violence were usually carried out by other people, at his order). So on that level, it's a success. Hopefully the 800-page book now sitting on my wishlist (simply titled Helter Skelter) will give a more in depth analysis than the film was able to do.

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