Sidewinder’s View: “Split Image” (1982)

Just finished Split Image, from 1982, directed by Ted Kotcheff, whose First Blood was released in the same year.

Split Image was a decent enough movie, but the ending seemed a bit too pat. As far as early ’80s flicks on religious cults and de-programming, 1981’s Ticket To Heaven, starring Nick Mancuso, was much creepier and convincing in its depiction of fanaticism and brainwashing.

Split Image had a much livelier cast, though, and a tad more melodrama, which is fine, but the de-programming sequence wasn’t as convincing. James Woods, as the de-programmer, played a great, complicated character: a smart, yet vulgar and shady operator whom you’re not sure you like. The movie’s worth seeing for Woods alone.

On the topic of families forcibly abducting family members from religious cults when the family member isn’t interested in leaving the cult… I used to find it easy to root for the families, but, considering the circumstances under which the family members fell into their cult membership, I’m not so sure the families, passionate as they are, are in the right.

They’re certainly wrong in the eyes of the law (such a move is, after all, kidnapping at worst, unlawful restraint at best), and, just on principle, I have a hard time getting behind the abductors, no matter how emotionally driven their motives might be.

Religious fanaticism aside, some adults make bad decisions that affect their parents in all sorts of different ways. Maybe the decision deemed harmful by the parents isn’t impacting the adult child in a negative way at all. Some adult children are simply selfish people, or merely deluded about the effect their behavior’s had on those that care about them.

That said, parental disapproval of a lifestyle choice isn’t a solid enough justification for infringing on their adult offspring’s rights. While I’m no fan of all-consuming religious cults, I’m also not a big fan of control freaks driven by emotion to force their will on someone else simply because that someone else has chosen to cut ties with them.Split Image Finale

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