In this made for TV movie, Powers Boothe plays the infamous leader of the “People’s Temple Cult,” Jim Jones. 1,000 followers give away their life savings to live with the cult in Guyana. When the illegal activities of Jones and his higher ups becomes known and investigators began searching the property, Jones decides to take himself and his followers on the fast track to heaven by staging the largest mass suicide in history. This film depicts Jones’ maniacal worldview and tragic end in graphic fashion. Boothe’s performance as Jones has long been revered as his absolute best, and the supporting cast, made up of such veterans as Ned Beatty, Randy Quaid and James Earl Jones, are equally good.
The film draws on Guyana Massacre: The Eyewitness Account and reports from The Washington Post at the time, to describe the life of Jim Jones from a 1960s idealist to the November 1978 mass murder/suicide of members of Peoples Temple in Jonestown, Guyana. In the beginning of the film, Jim Jones is seen helping minorities and working against racism. Later, after a move to San Francisco and increased power and attention, Jones becomes focused on his belief in nuclear holocaust, and moves hundreds of his followers to Guyana. Congressman Leo J. Ryan is notified that some individuals are being held against their will, and after going to investigate, the Guyana tragedy itself is depicted.