Watch Sons of Perdition
Sons of Perdition is a compelling and thought-provoking documentary film that was released by the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) in 2010. The film explores the lives of several teenagers who have grown up within the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) community, a sect that is considered to be a branch of the broader Mormon religion. The film is directed by Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten, and it takes an unflinching look at the challenges and struggles that these teenagers face as they try to break free of the highly restrictive and oppressive culture in which they have been raised.
The FLDS community is located in the isolated town of Colorado City, Arizona, on the Utah-Arizona border. It is led by Warren Jeffs, a man who is revered as a prophet by his followers and who is believed to have received direct revelations from God. The community is known for its strict adherence to traditional gender roles, which often puts women and girls in subordinate positions to men and boys. Young girls are routinely forced into spiritual marriages with much older men, while boys who become teenagers are often exiled from the community because they are seen as potential competition for the older men.
Sons of Perdition follows the stories of three teenage boys who have been cast out of the FLDS community and are now struggling to adapt to life on the outside world. Bruce, along with his brothers Joe and Sam, are excommunicated from the FLDS community and sent to live in St. George, Utah, where a small community of ex-FLDS members have set up a support network. Meanwhile, Zach, who has never been excommunicated but has grown disillusioned with the teachings of the church, embarks on a dangerous journey to escape from the community and start a new life on his own.
The film offers a poignant and heartbreaking look at the lives of these young men, who have been robbed of their childhoods and are now trying to figure out how to live in a world that they have been taught to fear and mistrust. They struggle with issues like alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, and the difficult process of learning how to trust others after years of being taught that everyone outside of the community is an agent of Satan. The film also explores the challenges faced by their families, many of whom are still trapped in the FLDS community and are deeply conflicted about their loyalties and beliefs.
Throughout the film, Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten use a combination of interviews, archival footage, and observational footage to create a deeply immersive and emotionally charged portrait of life within the FLDS community. They do an excellent job of conveying the sense of isolation and paranoia that permeates every aspect of life in Colorado City, as well as the deep emotional scars that these young men carry with them as a result of their experiences. They also do an admirable job of humanizing the members of the FLDS community, many of whom are depicted as complex and sympathetic individuals who are struggling to find meaning in their lives.
Overall, Sons of Perdition is a powerful and essential documentary film that sheds light on a highly secretive and repressive community that is often overlooked by mainstream media. It is a film that challenges viewers to confront their preconceptions and biases and to think deeply about the nature of faith, identity, and freedom. By telling the stories of these young men, Measom and Merten have created a film that is both affecting and thought-provoking, and that serves as a potent reminder of the transformative power of cinema to shine a light on the darkest corners of human experience.