If there’s one thing you can be sure of when it comes to Netflix, it’s the quality of their documentary series and Wild Wild Country is no exception. With 6 episodes a little over an hour each, this fascinating and often shocking series follows the enigmatic Indian Guru Rajneesh (later known as Osho) and his movement that saw hundreds of thousands of people following his teachings and the problems this caused for a small neighbouring town in America and the country as a whole. Featuring interviews with key members of the group, law enforcement, politicians and residents in the town affected, Wild Wild Country takes a rare glimpse into the life of a cult before depicting the ugly underbelly of this movement that threatened to change America forever.
Despite the length of each episode, Wild Wild Country never feels like it drags or meanders on unnecessarily. The first episode looks at the beginning of the movement and its eventual relocation to the Oregan desert in the USA where the issues started. As the episodes progress, what initially looks like a positive, fascinating utopia quickly evolves into a dangerous, scandalous movement that almost changed America forever.
Although these early episodes do a good job of getting you invested in the story, it is difficult to understand just what was so endearing about Osho through what initially just looks like a unique form of meditation. Of course there’s probably more to this than what’s shown but it’s still a little difficult to fully empathise and understand the stories from some of these people. Especially considering how fondly they looked upon Osho as their own personal messiah, following his every word. When the credits roll and the documentary comes to its sombre end, Wild Wild Country is a memorable, interesting and absorbing story that many may not have ever heard of but is so outlandish, so incredulously depicted that it’s hard to believe it actually happened.
If there’s one nitpick with Wild Wild Country, it comes from the sound design. Whilst Wild Wild Country does feature an interesting array of culturally relevant tracks and background music, at time the volume is far too loud and drowns out the interviews. When the instrumental, minimal music plays this isn’t an issue but during some of the episodes that feature lyrical rock and pop tracks, it’s certainly a lot more noticeable. The rest of the series is perfectly shot though with a good mixture of original archival footage, news segments and face to face interviews. There’s an interesting array of camera angles used too and when it comes to the cinematography, Netflix once again manages to nail a uniquely different aesthetic whilst keeping the stylistic streak its adopted for other documentary series’ going
Aside from the sound design and the lack of understanding around what made Osho so endearing to begin with, this series does a great job showing the ins and outs of Osho’s cult movement and the eventual ugly conflicts this caused in the US. There’s a really good, balanced view here too and the clever way Wild Wild Country begins bathed in optimism and positivity before rearing its ugly head and showing the horrors at the core of this society is cleverly done, all the while providing a fascinating glimpse into cult life. Netflix have yet again produced another incredible documentary series in Wild Wild Country and if the quality of Netflix dramas were ever in doubt, the same cannot be said for their documentaries which consistently remain some of the best produced content today.