Netflix's six-part documentary series Wild, Wild Country tells the story of Rajneeshpuram, a commune outside of Antelope, Oregon whose very presence stirred up a great deal of controversy. The community — made up of followers of spiritual guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh — would ultimately collapse after a sect within the community, led by Ma Anand Sheela, allegedly committed several major crimes. These crimes included what remains the largest bioterrorism attack to take place on United States soil, voter fraud, arson, and even attempted murder. However, while all of this is depicted in Wild, Wild Country, there are parts this documentary series left out.
According to filmmakers Chapman and Maclain Way, who worked on the documentary series for four years prior to its Netflix release, there were elements of the sannyasins story that the team left out. Speaking to GQ, the brothers explained that one thing that was cut had to do with the very routines the sannyasins followed.
"One of the main sections that got left on the cutting-room floor was a section that we edited called 'The Day in the Life' section, about what it was really like for your average sannyasin and your average follower through a day in the life of the ranch," Chapman told GQ. "Maybe at some point we can release an extra feature or directors’ cut where we can release a little segment so those who are curious can get an inside look on what it was like to live inside the commune."
It's an interesting piece of information to remove from the documentary, but it might explain why so many former sannyasins (the ones not involved with Sheela's plot) have found memories of their time living on the Oregon ranch, and felt so strongly bonded with their fellow community members.
If Rajneeshpuram was controversial during its existence, well, so is Wild, Wild Country. While some people believe the film offers a balanced take, others feel it unfairly favors Rajneeshpuram — and even others believe it sides with the Oregonians who wanted the ranch shuttered.
Maclain told GQ that was the point of Wild, Wild Country: to make the audience think critically about their point of view.
"If you feel like the Antelopians were like redneck bigots that were the villains of the story, that's fine, but if you got your way there through critically thinking about these issues, then that's what I'm excited about. If you think that the Rajneeshees were like these evil brainwashed cult members, that's a valid takeaway, too. There's a lot of argument for that, but hopefully you've reached that through, again, a lens of critically thinking about these issues."
Wild, Wild Country is one documentary series that will leave you with just as many questions as it does answers. Here's hoping we get those deleted scenes sooner rather than later.