The problem with this epic documentary is that it takes six hours to reveal the insanely explosive conclusion, so let me just put it out here to ruin everything: the CIA assassinated one of its own scientists because he was going to reveal to the public that the USA had been dropping biological weapons on North Korea during the Korean war. Then the US government gas-lighted the shit out of North Korea when they tried to hold the US accountable. By the time you get to that point, you’ve waded through so many hours of bizarre false leads, you’re not really prepared to absorb what has finally come out of it.
To cover up this gross a violation of basic humanity, the CIA spent decades (decades!) knitting web after web of lies and bullshit so convoluted it took the deceased scientist’s son most of his entire life to unravel the truth. It’s massively fucked up, and has implications that are very relevant today, and not just in making sense of why North Korea rightfully doesn’t trust us for shit.
Errol Morris is a genius and a national treasure. His numerous amazing documentaries such as the immortal Vernon, Florida; Fog of War and TV series First Person shaped how documentaries are made in ways that we now take for granted.
I planned on watching the six-part Wormwood series over the course of several days, but was so riveted I stayed up ’til 3am plowing through the whole thing in one night. It has stayed with me, infecting my thought about movies I have seen since, like the light escapist fantasy The Shape of Water which is also set in early 50’s cold-war CIA-torn East coast, or even the hilarious I, Tonya (also a dramatic re-enactment of events that mostly actually happened). Neither of those films though posses Wormwood’s intense swirling relation with finding the truth, nor the slow reveal of the tortured shape of a poisoned beast eating itself from within.
The CIA is still filled with douchebags who have no idea what they’re doing, dropping bombs all over the world on intel so thin and questionable it’s completely unconscionable. If there’s one good thing about the ass-clown Trump being at the helm of our country, it’s that his stupidity and incompetence will likely result in the weakening of American economic and military power throughout the world, and hopefully with that will go the assumption that no matter who we fuck over or kill, we have the moral high-ground and a reason to do so.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to drop some acid and try to think about puppies.