New Netflix Documentary Chronicles the CIA's Secret LSD Experiments
Errol Morris's six-part "Wormwood" investigates “a shadowy world of hidden and imagined intentions coupled with dark and horrifying revelations."
Published on August 30, 2017

This winter, Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris is bringing a new series to Netflix that will delve into the CIA's secret experiments on LSD and mind control. Wormwood is a six-part series that will explore the CIA's shadowy MKUltra program from the 1950s, in which government agents dosed people with LSD without their knowledge to observe the effects.

The story centers around Frank Rudolph Olson, a CIA employee who fell to his death from a New York hotel room window in 1953, just nine days after being secretly dosed with LSD. Olson's death was initially blamed on a “fatal nervous breakdown,” but in 1975 the government admitted that he had been drugged without his knowledge. The mystery of whether or not Olson's death was a suicide or a murder was never resolved, and in 2012 his sons Eric and Nils filed a lawsuit seeking access to documents regarding their father's death. 

“Isn't journalism the pursuit of truth? But what if the truth proves to be elusive, hard to get at? How far does one go?” Morris asks in a statement accompanying the series trailer. “Here we have the story of one man's 60-year quest to identify the circumstances of his father's death. Did he jump from a hotel window? Or was he pushed? And if he was pushed, why? What for?”

Morris, renowned director of The Fog of War and The Thin Blue Line, describes the show as “a shadowy world of hidden and imagined intentions coupled with dark and horrifying revelations. In many ways, a personal family story, but in many other ways, a story of America's decline in the period following World War II. It asks the question: To what extent can a democracy lie to its citizens and still, in the end, remain a democracy?”

The series reportedly does not contain traditional re-enactments, but does have a cast of actors including Peter Sarsgaard and Molly Parker. Wormwood will air on December 15th, but you can watch the trailer now.

Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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