This was a fascinating if odd film; George Carey ventured out to the Siberian middle-of-nowhere town Minusinsk, to meet with Jesus Vissarion who leads some 4,000 people who’ve all come together looking for something…
Whether it’s direction in life or a guaranteed place in whatever awaits – heaven-wise – wasn’t entirely clear, but that they all believe that Vissarion can facilitate their desires is without question.
However, he hasn’t always been Jesus; he began life as Sergei Torop and went on to become a cop and then went on to become the second coming, apparently. His right hand man is an ex-rock band member Vadim Redkin who’s protective of his main man.
Torop/Vissarion, we heard, first realised he was destined to be something akin to the messiah when he developed an interest that bordered on obsession with UFOs. We heard from some people who knew him in his previous life as a traffic cop too, and one in particular believed that Torop used hypnotism on those around him…
And that the man has charisma can’t be denied, but there, so have some of the world’s most dangerous people. Everyone who ever met Ted Bundy described him as charismatic and charming, and similarly, David Koresh was believed to be ‘something special’ until he ended up believing his own propaganda and things went the way of the pear. Albeit a very tragic pear.
I suspect that a large part of the appeal for Vissarion’s followers is in filling the gap that the end of communism has left. And that’s understandable; when being told what to do, when and how has been an integral part of your life, being handed your freedom is not always welcome. Some people want ‘guidance’, and Vissarion offers it.
Their lives are simple, though Vissarion himself has a lot of the trappings of the Western world such as a big telly and a rather impressive stereo system. And Redkin has Marilyn Munroe singing as his mobile phone’s ringtone. Very spiritual.
But ultimately, what was never entirely clear was what this film was for…
Was it just a fly-on-the-wall type jobby? Or was it made in the hope that if ever things go the way of Waco out there in Siberia, someone’s got lots of footage of this group?
There was certainly reason for concern in the dark portents about world’s end that Vissarion preached about to both Carey and his followers, so I guess it’s a wait and see whether any news of tragedies comes through, but in the meantime, this show was an interesting watch, if only to marvel at the sheer number of people who’ll buy into a dream.
If you missed it, you can catch it here on 4oD.