5 docs that will shock you
Please excuse my attempt to be funny with that headline. I recently dove head first into some documentaries that were *shocking* (which seems to be a theme of mine) from disappearing coral reef around the world to the man who wrote The Anarchist Cookbook (which is still available on Amazon by the way). Here are 5 docs that really resonated with me and offered some insight into subjects that I didn't think I'd want to know more about (aka coral reef).
- Chasing Coral takes viewers on a world tour of the most beautiful and vibrant coral reefs – but it has a strong message. Coral is dying because of the ocean's rising temperature (basically because humans suck and global warming etc). This means that animals depending on the reefs are losing their territory as well, which effects larger prey like sharks and whales. A group of experts flock to different parts of the world to capture the dying reefs on film to show the stark difference between healthy and dead coral. The doc is mesmerizing, colourful and emotions, with several of the crew having breakdowns about how terrible it is that the reefs are destroyed. We are left with a tiny speck of hope that we can reverse the effects of global warming -- if only we make and implement immediate changes. And take these signs of diminishing coral reef seriously.
- Josef Fritzl: Story of a Monster is an hour-long documentary that explains how a man kidnapped and kept his own daughter as basically a sex slave in his basement for 24 years. The events begin in Austria in the mid-1980s, as Fritzl builds a dungeon in his basement and prepares to capture his then-18-year-old daughter. The story is disturbing and heartbreaking. Don't watch this if you can't even get through one episode of Law & Order: SVU. When I was travelling a few years ago, I read a book called Secret in the Cellar by John Glatt, all about the lead up to the kidnapping and Fritzl's family history, and then the aftermath. I recommend it for anyone who wants more background after watching the doc.
- American Anarchist follows the story of a man who used military documents to create a book on how to essentially revolt against the government. The author, William Powell, speaks about his mindset as an 18-year-old outcast looking to become a writer. He seems almost unaware of the effect his book, the Anarchist Cookbook, had on the American psyche at the time. The book was cited as one of the documents read and used by the teenagers behind the Columbine mass shooting, as well as by the man behind the Oklahoma City Bombing. Powell discusses why he wrote it, and how he feels after it may have influenced these violent and horrible attacks on innocent people.
- Jesus Camp centres around devout Christian children, who speak in tongues and profess their unwavering love for Jesus while at summer camp. It offers an inside look into how the church is run and how children are given a religious education. The doc zeros in on a young boy named Levi, who must come up with a sermon for the camp. His thought process on wanting to become a preacher is slowly revealed against clips of him praying and speaking. We witness how the religious leaders at camp push children to believe that they are the real key to the future (which has a grain of truth in it, but is then taken to the extreme), and must wage the war against abortion and homosexuality. The gripping doc is hard to watch at times but is a powerful and thought-provoking portrayal of religion in America.
- Going Clear is an HBO documentary about the Church of Scientology and former members who are starting to speak out against abuse and wrongdoing. Filmmaker Paul Haggis and other ex-Scientologists talk about why they got involved with the Church and why they got out. There is archival footage of L. Ron Hubbard, as well as current members Tom Cruise and John Travolta. The new religion is explored in its entirety, revealing allegations of sexual and mental abuse and fraud.
In Canada, Netflix has most of these available to stream now. The rest you can find online!