Ambush in Waco (1993)
KNOW YOUR PROPAGANDA
The scene right before the final raid sequence is a revelation - it follows so swiftly and naturally, I'm having trouble telling if it's the product of the writer's intent, perhaps some mechanism at work in his subconscious (if not intended), or of my own projection: the whole of the Branch Davidians sit around a large television, screen-light flickering, as the sound of gun-shots and screaming fills the room; their eyes are glossy, they stare fixated, eating pop-corn casually, the score's a menacing drone as the camera pushes closer into the crowd; the message is a clear one: here sit the crazies, indoctrinated.
This should be no surprise, this is the same message building throughout the film, as David Koresh and his followers are depicted as trigger-happy fundamentalist wackos lacking total social cohesion and control. The strongest device affirming this is in the sect's consistent placement as the thing being looked upon – who's unified point-of-view of the film, albeit in the form of several characters, is either mocking, skeptical, or status-quo.
The Davidians are placed on the outside; one is made to feel as if violent action against the sect is not only justified, but should occur. What is so fascinating about the scene with the television is that after it fades to black, the final sequence of the film begins: a failed law enforcement raid on the denomination's compound: all gun-fire, blood, and screaming. The hidden formal code through out the film has suggested for us to smirk quietly at the loonies; this presentation is made so strong one is almost compelled to reach out to all the confused, misguided people and cry, "If you could see what I see!"
Yet, it's impossible not to make the connection between the image of the Davidians gazing at the violence on television, and what the average (prime-time and record-breaking) NBC audience household must have looked like: the family gathered on the couch, television glowing, eating popcorn, docile, in a state of expectancy, with the sound of screaming and gun fire from the raid sequence filling the room — it's as if asking: On which side do the crazies sit?