Manson: The Lost Tapes gives us a glimpse of the dark side of the 1960s dream

For a decade supposedly so full of peace and love, of a flowering of art and culture, the 1960s looks like a remarkably unpleasant 10 years '“ political assassinations, wars, riots, strikes. And Charles Manson.

Friday, 28th September 2018, 3:47 pm
Updated Saturday, 29th September 2018, 7:49 am
Charles Manson was the subject of an ITV documentary using rarely seen footage of the notorious Manson Family in Manson: The Lost Tapes

Documentary Manson: The Lost Tapes (ITV, Thursdays, 9pm) detailed ex-convict Manson’s recruiting of vulnerable young men and women, inciting some of them to murder seven people – including Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of film director Roman Polanski.

The events of Lo Cielo Drive in August 1969 are cited by some as the end of the 1960s, a sign that what had begun in such optimistic spirit had been tainted by drugs, big business, television, whatever. From watching The Lost Tapes, however, you got the impression that the ’60s, as they have been sold to later generations, never really happened at all.

The programme had recovered tapes made in the aftermath of Manson’s arrest, after a film crew went to speak to the remains of Manson’s ‘Family’. Blank-eyed, robotically blissful, interviews with the family members were disturbing viewing.

As were interviews with some of the Family members as they are now. They struggled to make sense of their lives with the Family, recounting tales of orgies and drug-taking with a startling matter-of-factness.

Basically, Manson offered them the family they never had at home, As one former Family member, Dianne Lake, says: “My mom and dad were not the warm, loving, hugging variety, and I needed to feel that.”

You were left with the feeling that a few lucky people got to experience free love, the counter-culture, the opening up of horizons, but the vast majority went looking for it and got lost along the way.

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