Errol Morris dissects MKUltra, the CIA’s mind control experiments—and redefines the true crime genre in the process.
America loves watching true crime documentaries. There are several television channels dedicated to the subject, dozens of podcasts, and hundreds of movies. Most of them tell the story of a violent crime, then unravel its mysteries. There are variations on the theme—authorities catch a killer or don’t, the wrong person is accused, or the bad guy gets away—but they all follow a similar pattern.
Then there’s the work of director Errol Morris. He wants the audience to understand not just the crime, but the way the crime affected everyone around it, and what the story people tell about the crime says about them.
Wormwood is his new documentary miniseries on Netflix that—on its surface—it’s about LSD, the CIA, and the clandestine MKUltra project. From the early 1950s until 1973, the the CIA and the Pentagon used torture, hypnosis, and drugs such as LSD to attempt to control the human mind. It didn’t work, and the project killed Frank Olson.
Olson was a government chemist who worked on the project in its early days and, in 1953, fell to his death from the window of a New York City hotel room. The police ruled the death a suicide, but his son Eric never believed it…. Read More