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HEAVEN’S GATE: THE CULT OF CULTS (2020, USA) Movie review, plot, trailer

It will probably never be clear to me how it is possible for some seemingly prudent, even average person to become a member of a cult at some stage of life. What must happen in someone’s head is that one day he decides to leave everything, completely surrenders and accepts everything that is preached to him by some more or less charismatic leader, guru or as it is already called. The answer to this question is partly obtained in this four-part documentary series about the cult of “Heaven’s Gate”, which was current in America from the mid-1970s until 1997, when 39 members committed mass suicide. The tragic end of this cult is actually the beginning of the series after which we go back more than twenty years and learn in detail how this cult came into being, how it evolved and who were not only its leaders but also the people who decided to join.

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It all started there in 1975 when about twenty people went missing in a small town in Oregon and joined a mysterious cult whose leaders were a man and a woman who introduced themselves as Do and You. And it’s hard to really describe the belief of this bizarre cult, but it was a very disturbed mix of Christianity, New Age and even SF on the trail of “Star Trek” that it’s really very difficult to understand from the current perspective as someone in that nonsense. could believe. Slightly on the trail of Scientology, Heavens’ Gate’s belief was that humans are actually aliens living in human-like shells and waiting for the right moment to re-materialize in their true forms and be called to the kingdom of heaven. Although such madness is hard to believe today, author Clay Tweel initially fine-tunes the situation and introduces us to the spirit of the 1970s.

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In addition to the many surviving members of the cult who were lucky enough to leave Heaven’s Gate before the fateful 1997, many experts say. Psychologists, sociologists, some of whom infiltrated the cult in the 1970s, religious experts and even family members of people who joined this crazy, crazy team. Of course, none of them justify everything that happened, but with this series in the end we certainly get answers to the question of how this is possible. He shot Tweel a complex and rounded, not accidentally superficial series that really brings us many answers when it comes to the phenomenology of cults in general, not exclusively Heaven’s Gate. We learn how on the eve of the cult that gathered so many people functioned for so long and from what and how they lived, as well as who were the people who were the leaders of the cult.

Of course, the story is not much different from most similar cults in which it turned out that all these various self-proclaimed gurus, deputies and the like are the most common psychopaths who also have an incredible ability to manipulate others. But with this cult the situation is all the more painful because it has lasted for more than twenty years and the members have arbitrarily renounced their own will and left it to someone to make all the decisions for them. In the first two episodes, we mostly find out what this cult believed in, what their life looked like with constant migrations along and across America to avoid media attention, but also the search for family members trying to find their loved ones. A handful of archival recordings give the series a lot of dynamics, and all those who like this kind of topic with “Cult of Cults” will certainly not miss it.

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