Wild, Wild Country: a real life horror story

Sarah Barrett

Netflix’s latest release directed by Chaplain Way and Maclain Way entitled Wild Wild Country, tells the tale of a self-proclaimed and controversial Indian guru’s plans in 1981. The plan to build a 64,000-acre utopian city in rural Oregon in the United States.

The spiritual guru’s teaching was based on enlightenment and spiritual awakening, he amassed over 250,000 followers during the peak of his popularity. He attracted so many followers through his unique way of meditation and his practice of free-love.

A small town called Antelope, closest to the site of the Rajneesh ranch becomes the focal point of conflict in this gripping six-episode docu-series that details charming Bhajwan Shree Rajneesh and his flamboyant followers.

It bears an intellectual theme and contains many twists. The six-episode documentary details the cult’s endeavours and chronologically showcases over 250 hours’ worth of footage including interviews with Ma Anand Sheela, Rajneesh’s charismatic personal assistant and Rajneesh’s attorney Paul Morantz.

Executive producers Mark and Jay Duplass (Duplass Productions) remind audiences of a forgotten momentous event in American history. Episode one explores Rajneesh’s establishment of his commune in Oregon and his assistant Sheela’s overseeing of the operations of the commune. As the series progresses we are given insight into how life was in the town of Antelope through the combination of footage and interviews. The viewer is left questioning why the town’s citizens are suspicious of Rajneesh’s followers and most of all what did the Rajneesh do?

One of the excellent things about this series is that interviews feature people from both sides of the story. The town’s citizens, governmental figures and pivotal figures in the Rajneeshi movement including Sheela. Rajneesh is central to this gripping tale but Sheela is also a compelling character at the best of times in this story.

Instead of a one sided story, the viewer receives all sides which helps create the bigger picture. Leaving the audience shocked at the developments and outcome of what became one of the biggest immigration fraud cases and bio-terror disasters in US History. It’s debilitating to hear the town’s citizens say things like “We have to make sure that evil does not win the battle”.  We see the town of Antelope’s opposition develop through the creation of 1000 friends of Oregon.

Under Sheela’s guidance, the actions of the Sanyassians lead to disastrous outcomes. As the story develops we learn that Bhagwan Rhajneesh has built up followers from rich and intellectual background and even some celebrity followers. Long bearded and god-like to his followers, Rajneesh owned 93 Rolls Royces, he was dubbed by US media as the Rolls Royce Guru.

With Nike Co- founder Bill Bowerman even making an appearance in this documentary,  the crazy progression left a feeling of fascination for Rajneesh, his teachings and his followers’ way of living. Most definitely one to watch for those of you that are cult and American crime saga fanatics, tighten your seatbelts because this one is as bizarre as Jonestown, if not more.

Sarah Barrett

Image Credit: Netflix