Coming to Netflix on Wednesday, March 22, Waco: American Apocalypse is a three-part docuseries chronicling one of the most tragic events in modern American history.
Directed by Night Stalker: The Hunt For a Serial Killer director Tiller Russell, it uses freshly captured testimony and never-before-seen footage to bring viewers inside the harrowing 1993 confrontation between the US government and notorious cult leader David Koresh during which 82 people died, including 28 children.
At its center is Koresh, the religious leader and self-proclaimed “Messiah” who had promised his followers salvation but instead delivered bloodshed.
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Coinciding with the 30th anniversary of this deadly event, Russell’s series aims to take a hard look at the moments leading up to the siege, chronicling its aftermath and media coverage, and peering into the mind of the man behind it.
Was David Koresh a cult leader?
Today, Koresh is widely regarded as a modern-day cult leader. As the leading figure of a religious sect known as the Branch Davidians, he amassed many followers in the 1980s and early 1990s, eventually convincing them that the apocalypse was coming and only he, as their Messiah, could guide them through it. of it safely.
As allegations of coercion and child sexual abuse circulated around both Koresh and the movement, he was busy amassing a vast arsenal of weapons held at the group’s compound, the Mount Carmel Center in Waco, Texas.
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Spanning handguns, grenades and assault weapons, this deadly arsenal quickly caught the attention of the US government which eventually obtained a warrant for Koresh’s arrest through the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
However, when the ATF raided Mount Carmel Center in late February 1993, all hell broke loose with a bloody firefight that lasted for several weeks. As a result, four government officials were killed and all of Koresh’s followers were held hostage in the center of this fierce battle.
Finally, the bloodshed ended in April of that year when the FBI approved the controversial use of the gas to flush Koresh out of his compound. The resulting action led to more deaths, including a number of children under the age of 16 and Koresh himself.
When is Waco: American Apocalypse coming out?
In Netflix’s new documentary series, Russell calls on testimony from people on both sides of the conflict to paint a definitive account of the Waco raid.
Using CGI re-enactments and input from the last child to leave the Koresh cult alive, the series aims to shed new light on this harrowing moment in American history.
“Since the story first broke 30 years ago, it has captivated the world as an iconic and tragic moment in American history,” Russell explained in a statement, according to GQ.
“A prophetic leader with an apocalyptic vision, a fierce debate about the right to bear arms and to test the constitutional limits of religious freedom – he has powerful and provocative elements that still resonate today.
“We tried to negotiate [the complex and ferociously debated events of Waco] from a deeply humanist perspective, focusing on what it feels like for people from all sides to be caught in the jaws of history.
Waco: American Apocalypse has been streaming on Netflix since Wednesday, March 22, 2023.