Heaven's Gate: The Cult of Cults: All Episodes (4 episodes)
December 27, 2020 7:53 AM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

The four-part documentary, on HBO Max, tells the story of the UFO cult which existed for more than two decades until its leader, Marshall Applewhite, aka Do, and most of its members committed mass suicide on March 26, 1997. The documentary includes footage shot by the cult members themselves, as well as interviews with survivors and other people connected with Heaven's Gate. [CW: suicide, self-mutilation]

The cult and its 1997 mass suicide were proximate to the appearance of the Hale-Bopp comet, in the belief that shedding their physical bodies would cause their spirits to leave Earth on a spaceship they believed was traveling along with the comet.The documentary describes the cult's founding, the death of the cult's co-founder Bonnie "Ti" Nettles from cancer in 1985, and the likely effect that her death had on Applewhite and the changes in his teachings. The CW above the cut was for the footage showing the deceased cult members, as well as explicit descriptions of one of the members' elective castration. Interviewees include former members who left Heaven's Gate before the mass suicide, as well as cult experts and deprogrammers, and Nettles' daughter.


The Heaven's Gate site

A podcast of the events [FanFare link]

Heaven's Gate previously on the blue (one of the links is about the Michael Cimino movie)
posted by Halloween Jack (2 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If I didn’t have to do Adulting tomorrow I’d’ve watched the whole thing in one sitting. Which I never do. Captivating story.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 9:20 PM on December 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

I liked how empathetic this was. I feel like so many series of this sort are not exactly "let's point and laugh!" but definitely have an element of "look at these weirdos! they aren't you!" This felt so much like, hey, falling into this was easy. This felt less like a group of people gathering around a charismatic psychopath (which seems to be a lot of cults) and just a lot of sad, broken people finding each other and buying into this weird thing. Maybe more so than other cult docs I've watched, I could see myself almost going there so maybe it's just me relating to some of these people.

This story makes me sad. I also admire how conflicted the people who'd left were allowed to be. It's such a sad, complicated story and I think this series told it well and with a lot of kindness.
posted by edencosmic at 5:02 PM on December 30, 2020 [5 favorites]

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