Milwaukee Film Festival 2016: Orange Sunshine
By Andrea Thompson
In another case of an odd, bittersweet tale to come out of the '60s, the documentary “Orange Sunshine” tells of a group of hippies called the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, who decided to turn on the world by making sure as many people as possible got high on LSD. The group just might have been one of the sweetest, most sincere drug dealing organizations ever. The doc follows the usual path these kinds of stories take, as we see how the group took LSD and changed their lives, came together with high ideals, and, according to “Orange Sunshine,” mostly stuck to them even as they went from local to national, then international as the money piled up. It's almost adorable to see how easy it was to start dealing, keep smuggling, and evade authorities for so long. But lifestyles like these must always end, and end badly. And it does, with people succumbing along the way to consequences like death and arrest. “Orange Sunshine” features interviews with many of the group members themselves, none of whom seem to remotely regret their actions, as well as brilliant editing, and Super 8 style, spellbinding reenactments. But director William A. Kirkley may be a bit too big of a fan of his subjects and their history, since anything negative about the hippie movement and the Brotherhood in general is barely mentioned. For the opposition, there is one cop who isn't really allowed to explain his philosophy or beliefs. It makes for unbalanced viewing, but it also reflects and helps us better understand the time period it lovingly recreates, for better or worse.