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Free Spirits (2007)

98 min  |  Documentary

Free Spirits" documents the unusual 20-year history of the Brotherhood of the Spirit/Renaissance Community, focusing primarily on its mercurial leader, Michael Metelica Rapunzel. When high school and Hell's Angels dropout Michael Metelica and eight hungry teen-aged friends retreated to a rural Massachusetts tree house in 1968, they never imagined it would grow into one of the largest, most controversial New Age communes of the 1960s and 70s. At its peak in the mid 1970s, it grew to 400 full-time members, with real estate in four Massachusetts towns, an airplane, national rock band (Spirit in Flesh), and a million dollar a year income. Many stayed a decade or longer, committing their youth, sweat, and worldly possessions to creating an example of brotherhood and spiritual awareness they hoped would serve as a model for the world. "60 Minutes," "People Magazine," "Look," "The New York Times," "Wall Street Journal," "National Geographic" and countless other media came calling on this outlandish group of young people whose belief in their cause was only exceeded by their disdain for the norms of contemporary society. For some members, their time there was to be the highlight of their lives, filled with humor, danger, intense personal and spiritual growth, and daily absurdity. For others, it became a cultish nightmare. Their story, as told in "Free Spirits," reflected the 1960s generation, as they survived the intense hostility of the towns around them - fire-bombings, the brutal murder of an eighteen year old member - only to fall because of internal pressures, not the least of which were the changes in their founder and leader, Michael Metelica Rapunzel.

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