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Waco: The Rules of Engagement (1997)

Director: William Gazecki, William Gazecki
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: New Yorker Video
Genre: Documentary, Politics and Social Issues, Biographies, Political & Social Issues, Religion
Running Time: 136 min.
Languages: English
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Director William Gazecki's documentary on 1994's 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, TX, which ended with the destruction of the compound by fire and the death of 70 members inside, is a strong and compelling piece of journalism that raises reasonable and troubling questions about how the FBI and the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) handled the matter. The film gives a brief history of the Branch Davidian sect and biographical data on David Koresh, their leader at the time of the debacle, before laying the groundwork of the events that led up to the Waco standoff and the FBI's eventual attack on their compound. While the film presents both sides of the issue, Gazecki makes clear that the FBI's own evidence can be used against them as often as for them, and asks why so much key evidence that could have determined what exactly happened (for example, whether the shots that killed many of the Davidians were fired from within the building or from outside) was either destroyed or simply lost. Neither an attack on Koresh and his followers as armed lunatics nor a conspiracy theorist's mass of wild conjecture, Waco: The Rules of Engagement carefully and meticulously presents facts that escaped most mainstream reports on the Branch Davidians, making the case that the FBI's conduct was at best ill-considered and at worst a reckless violation of the rights and safety of the people involved. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

a biased account for conspiracy nuts by llxx October 15, 2007 - 10:35 PM PDT
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful
This film is very little more than a apologist PR piece for religious lunatics - it is not objective, and should not be considered a documentary. Really, only one viewpoint is presented here. While the government indeed criminally botched the Waco operation, committed a great many terrible wrongs, and was likely responsible for the deaths of the cult members, this film tries very hard to whitewash the actions of the Davidians. The sentimental strings played whenever the cultists are on screen and military snares whenever government representatives appear are utterly absurd and overbearing, and the implication that someone can be normal and sane while thinking that a mystical deity is speaking to them is too ridiculous to give a moment's consideration. This is all very unfortunate, because a good film really could have been made out of this story.

It's worth noting that the only other available film from this director on Greencine is a film about "crop circles". This should say something about his credibility and gullibility.

Venality by MDixon January 14, 2004 - 10:48 AM PST
1 out of 9 members found this review helpful
gotta put that lit degree to some use. Seriously, Waco shows the lengths to which our beloved police state (anyone who doubts this is true, watch the video or look at what happened in Miami in November) will go to suppress dissent. All you out there who aren't participating in the War on Terror (tm) by shopping or some such, BEWARE!

A must see for all Americans by larbeck December 9, 2003 - 9:24 AM PST
11 out of 14 members found this review helpful
I saw this right after it came out. You may think you know how bad it was, just from reading the mainstream media. Using our government's own audio tapes and video, this documentary details one of the worst failures in U.S. law enforcement, due process all gone to hell, as they turned this stand off into a proving ground for new spy tech and mind control techniques that horrible failed on religious nuts. Sure the Branch Davidians were weird and probably some need to go to jail but they never deserved this - and certainly not all of those children. I could never trust President Clinton again after this and it just re-enforces my distrust of our Federales.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.97)
135 Votes
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GreenCine's Official 50 Best Documentaries List!
Each of these inspiring documentaries will take you to a world you've never been or tell you a story you've never heard, and deserve a place in the archives. One prerequisite: the films had to be currently available on DVD.

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