FILM REVIEW: CHARLES MANSON: THE FINAL WORDS
It’s a strange time we live in. Kids are eating tide pods and everyday the fight over Charles Manson‘s body gets weirder with more people coming out of the woodwork, trying to stake their claim.
Charles Manson died November 19th 2017. In the year before his death Manson collaborated with filmmaker James Buddy Day on this insightful and unique documentary that features Manson, the legal teams, friends and family of the victims, many members of “the Manson family” along with being narrated by Rob Zombie. I would like to point out that this documentary is not from a glamorous standpoint. This is not a love letter to Manson. This is simply to give insight from those involved, to analyze how the “Manson effect” is felt today and where these events fit into our current landscape.
From his “home” in The California State Prison in Corcoran California, Manson starts the documentary by saying that he still gets crime scene photos of the naked and bloodied body of Sharon Tate sent to him regularly saying “You did this, there is blood on your hands”. Whats interesting is the way he translates that to sound like he believes to be a victim himself by stating “There are more ways to crucify someone than by hanging them from a cross” . What is so relevant about that statement is it shows how Manson is able to manipulate situations and fact to his liking. It becomes easy to see how that manipulation spread like wildfire as we saw with his influence over the “Manson family”.
When asked to tell his own story in his own words, Manson blows them off by saying “I don’t give a fuck about my story. My story has been told all over the world a thousand times. You are for you, right? Right on!”. He also makes a point to lay out what these conversations and this documentary means. He says “As long as we understand that this is not based on friendship, not based on brotherhood. It’s based on guns and knives. Its based on revolution and war. Politics and governments. Survival”. He sounds more lucid at some points than others throughout the film.
On his notoriety, which is something that cannot be ignored, Manson acknowledges it and appreciates it. He says “I’m the most famous human being not only that is alive, but the most famous human being that has ever lived. And, I’m not even dead yet”. I had to laugh a little at that as he is indeed now dead, though completely on his own terms, which is something that many have had a point of contention with. One thing I disagree with when it comes to Manson’s celebrity status is the statement made by Stephen Kay who was the”Manson family” co-prosecutor after the retirement of original prosecutor and HELTER SKELTER author Vincent Bugliosi . In the film Kay states that while “kids today” know that Manson is famous, they do not look deeper to find out what he did. Kids today have an overwhelming access to information and it is coming at them from all sides at rapid speed. Kids today can and do look deeper, but what they choose to look into is dictated by many factors such as geographic location, age, race, class, and influences. The kids today did not grow up in the time of Manson. The world was different then. It by no means means that they are blind to the history behind the name.
Manson is a very charismatic speaker till the very end I have to say. I can see how easily an impressionable person could see him in a leadership role and get swept up in his character.
In regards to the documentary itself, it is very well edited and paced to give a very thorough look at the story and it’s players. The reenactments are a bit grim, but the situations they are reenacting are grim so at least they do not try and sugarcoat anything. The people they were able to get to speak on Manson and the murders are not the typical people you see in every Manson doc so that makes this doc something very fresh and unique. It’s an impressive feat. Especially to create a cohesive film centered around a man who at more times than not, does not appear cohesive himself.
If you are interested in true crime, I would recommend this. If you are a history buff I would also recommend this. I think it gives a very eye opening account of the time period that the murders took place in and what that means today.
“An insightful and unique documentary”
3.5 out of 5 Tombstones
CHARLES MANSON : THE FINAL WORDS is available on iTunes now.