I am Not Your Guru says Tony Robbins at the start of this documentary where we follow the participants of his Date With Destiny Event in Florida on their journey of discovery, exploration and positive thinking.
But having watched it, I wonder how true that is.
Let's face it the poster has a certain Messianic Quality...
The Netflix Movie Documentary which goes by the name of I Am Not Your Guru was directed by Joe Berlinger who became a friend of Tony himself and attended the event previously. Now he has decided to make a film of the event. It's true to say that this is more of a concert film that a deep look behind the scenes. It's not really a balanced view, but perhaps having an overwhelmingly positive message is something that we all could benefit from for once.
Having said that we really do get to see the raw emotions that are brought up and let go of in extreme close up. The cameras are able to focus in on the tears in the eyes at each revelation we hear from whoever the next person chosen to speak is. Never mind that they are mostly attractive younger women, I am sure that is just a coincidence. Those tears flow and flow so much that I wonder who has the concession selling the boxes of tissues in the hotel that it takes place. It must be a goldmine.
Is Tony Robbins for real?
It's actually hard to watch this without coming away with the feeling that Mr. Robbins really does do what he does to help people. He clearly gets the same kind of buzz from the drug of changing people's lives that one of the participants father's got from the drugs that caused him to treat her so badly as a child. After the intervention we watch we see those tears again, but it really does seem that some changes are being made. As A British Male you may well think that this kind of public display of emotions is something very American, and perhaps it is, but it is hard to deny that it works for the people in the venue as we watch them whipped up in a frenzy of love and emotion.
Watch Tony Robbins cry his own tears
At one point we hear a truly tragic story that moves Tony to tears himself. The 26 year old lady opens up about her childhood and how she bears all the responsibility of her family on her shoulders. Her story of abuse within a religious group of herself and her family from the age of six appears to shock him, although I am sure he has heard many stories with the same horrific shock before. However cynical I may be as a therapist I do think that he really is moved, not simply by her story, but by the fact he knows he can change her life. In fact afterwards he offers her therapy support, to train her in what he does and gives her $50000 towards helping her help others. Just as I was wondering whether he abandons people once the event is over he proves me wrong.
How much does a Tony Robbins seminar cost to attend?
If you want to join the 2500 other people at the Date with Destiny six day programme then it will cost you $4995. That sounds like a huge amount of money and it is. I can't help wondering about how everyone can afford this. For those who find they are chosen and work one to one in front of the crowd it may well make a huge change, but if you don't have the courage to speak out then can you benefit just as much? We don't really see that aspect so it is hard to tell. I do wonder how many people attend every year, when they find that being in the presence of Robbins is a drug they want to repeat.
As the film draws to a close I am left feeling a little unsatisfied. I wanted to know more about what happens behind the scenes and how the seminar works for people who are not up there in front of the crowd. It is clear that Director Joe Berlinger, who was originally dragged along to the same event in 2012 wants to leave us with a good feeling, but it means that the balance of the film swings almost too much to the positive. The director himself admits that he didn't pay when he attended, but I am sure that has no relevance.
In the end though this film doesn't really claim to be anything other than a concert film and in that sense the way that it drawers you in and creates an atmosphere even on the small TV screen of a Netflix subscriber makes watching it worthwhile.
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