Brainwashing, or at least claims of it, have figured prominently in several of history's most memorable events -- Patty Hearst's case, Jonestown's mass-suicide, the Manson family murders, and the CIA's MKULTRA program. Each suggests the possibility that people may have been coaxed out of their (right) minds. As art often imitates life, it's no surprise then that the idea of brainwashing has been a convenient plot device in fictional films. And why not? Brainwashing is an ever-intriguing notion, providing a workable shortcut to high jinks or high danger -- it's like a plot-device wormhole through narrative space-time.
Here we sample five films that employ the theme of brainwashing. Good movies or bad? That part's up to you to decide. We make no judgments. It's interesting to note, in passing, that nearly all of the brainwashers have evil intentions. It's enough to give mind control specialists a bad name. Filmmakers don't seem terribly excited about people being brainwashed into doing good. Perhaps they think that angle would be boring. And probably it would be.
First up, we'll visit a prolific filmmaker who's about to embark on an investigation of his own crimes.