Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Tales of a Terror Cult A/A2|
Director: Tatsuya Mori
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Educational, Documentary
In these two controversial documentaries, filmmaker Tatsuya Mori reveals the inner workings of the notorious Aum Shinrikyo cult, which was accused of releasing deadly poison gas into the Tokyo subway in 1995. Mori benefite... more »
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Shocking Documentaries on the Link Between Religious Isolati
David Crumm | Canton, Michigan | 06/16/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The subject matter in "A" and "A2" may seem exotic: In March, 1995, an obscure Japanese religious sect rocketed into headlines around the world by releasing poison gas on five trains, killing 12 people and injuring at least 1,000 more people.
Our temptation is to dismiss this all as the clever machinations of a religious con man, who still is imprisoned in Japan, pending a death sentence. If this all was the fault of one mad man, then we can sleep soundly.
Unfortunately in the U.S., we know too much about religious extremists. As this double-DVD set is released in 2009, we've had one twisted zealot murder a doctor in his own church and another terrorist open fire in the nation's central Holocaust memorial.
What these two documentaries offer us, as Americans, is a chance to watch them and talk about them with friends, small groups, students--analyzing a case that is conveniently far from so many of the hot-button biases that prevent us from calmly considering the cases of some of our own home-grown zealots.
Japanese filmmaker Tatsuya Mori essentially received little but grief for producing the first film, "A," which shows the inside story of what happened to the Japanese sect's remaining followers when their founder finally was put on trial for his crimes. There were legal challenges to his film and it did not receive wide release. By the end of that documentary, the story suggests that the sect's potential for damage essentially is done.
But in the year 2000, Mori returned to film another documentary, exploring how the group managed to rename itself, survive and apparently attract more followers. It's the second film that is truly shocking. Mori interviews new leaders in the sect who honestly admit to him that, if their leader would order another attack, they would carry it out.
The central, powerful message in these films for American viewers is this: Extreme religious isolation of this kind is dangerous both for the individuals and the group. If you do view these films and discuss them with others, watch in particular for lines in the English subtitles that you might hear repeated in extreme religious groups in America. As a journalist who has covered religion in the U.S. for more than 20 years, I can guarantee you that some of the rationales uttered in these two films are hauntingly close to home.