On the 9th August 1969, four members of the Manson ‘family’ – and for ‘family’, read ‘deluded nutters’ – were sent by Manson to the home of the heavily pregnant Sharon Tate, wife of Roman Polanski.
We all know what happened next; the ‘family’ members murdered Tate and her four friends, then daubed the word ‘PIG’ on the walls of her home in human blood. But what we’ve never heard before is the personal testimony of Linda Kasabian, who acted as lookout that fateful night.
Nick Godwin, Executive Producer of the company who made this documentary, had a team of people working for months to track Linda down – and yes, rock band Kasabian did name themselves after her – so that he could produce this film.
In it we saw her teary half-profile exclaiming remorse and recounting the events of that night. But it soon became evident that the intervening years haven’t done a whole lot to rid her of what someone less cynical would call brainwashing but I would call self delusion…
“There was a harmony amongst all of us, and it was, actually, beautiful.”
How any sane person can use the words beautiful and harmony in the same breath as describing cold blooded killers is beyond me. And that’s part of why I feel that this film should never have been made.
Manson has historically inspired hero worship, and I’ve never understood why. Does anyone name a rock band after Peter Sutcliffe or the Wests? And similarly, Marilyn Manson took his stage name from Marilyn Munroe and Charles Manson. For some reason, people see fit to glamourise what this evil and psychopathic killer did, and films of this nature serve only to rake over the dying embers in order to reignite a flame.
Was it a coup getting Linda Kasabian to talk on film? Undoubtedly. Did it serve any purpose? No, other than giving her a spotlight under which she could try to convince the viewing public that she really didn’t mean any harm to anyone.
Her recounting of that night – which was reconstructed – at no point included details of her calling the police or paramedics to save the lives of the five – six if you could Sharon Tate’s unborn baby, and I do – people who were being murdered inside the house. So I count her as being every bit as guilty as the ones wielding the knives.
We heard too how she got immunity and kept her freedom on condition that she rat out on the family members who committed the crimes. Not a lot of beautiful harmony in evidence there then; just a gut spilling exercise in saving her own hide.
In terms of the technicalities of the film making, the docudrama style presentation was well done in that the acting out of the reconstructions didn’t feel wooden like many of them tend to do, and it was clear that Godwin and his company didn’t scrimp on the film, but irrespective of how well lit it all was and how realistically tense, it’s still sensationalising an event that was utterly barbaric.