You’ve got to pick your battles in relationships – a fundamental rule I slowly learned.
Anyway, the doc was a thoroughly bizarre (the bit with the aliens??), harrowing, unsettling, and deeply shocking watch that seemed to captivate just about everyone. If you need your memory jogging, it centres around a young girl, Jan Broberg, who was kidnapped twice in the 1970s by family friend Robert Berchtold who developed a dangerous obsession with her.
It was very upsetting to hear about, but surely I can’t be the only one who spent the whole time feeling an intense dislike for her parents. Talk about naive.
At least they spawned some hilarious memes.
Like me, you were probably left with a lot of questions after watching the documentary.
Thankfully, the director, Skye Borgman, has answered some of your burning questions in a recent interview with Vulture.
Here’s the pick of what he had to say.
Why Jan’s parents were seemingly willing to ‘look the other way’ regarding Berchtold’s behaviour
“I think it’s just absolute denial. I really do. The shame they feel [about] the affairs they had threw them into such denial. Between the time Jan was 16 and 21 — when they weren’t really talking about this stuff at all, when they hadn’t realised any of the abuse — I think they literally were able to convince themselves that if Jan’s not telling us about this, it didn’t happen”.
Why they continued to trust Berchtold, despite his crimes.
“The Brobergs didn’t really think of it as him kidnapping [Jan], even though he took her without their knowledge, this is where I think the depth of the brainwashing really comes in, Mary Ann loved him, or thought that she loved him, and just couldn’t see what had really happened. He came back and was still saying, “I love you, Mary Ann. I think you’re great. You’re beautiful.
“It didn’t really dawn on her that he could also be attracted to a 12-year-old little girl. And again, doctors had said nothing happened. So I think they thought he had just had a little mental breakdown. But again, it’s that denial. Even though I think somewhere deep inside they knew something was wrong, they just couldn’t see it”.
Interestingly, he also spoke about how the film crew unearthed the story about Robert’s relationship with Jan’s father, Bob.
This is the one we really want to know about, right?
Borgman said that Berchtold had written some documents mentioning the relationship. After initially dismissing it, he then heard a series of transcripts that related to the now infamous event in the car.
“When we went for the interview with Bob, I wasn’t sure if I was going to ask him about it because nobody in the family had mentioned anything. I wanted to, but I didn’t know if I was crossing a line with him. So throughout the course of the interview — it was eight or ten hours long — I was asking him about their relationship and how much [Berchtold] meant to them as a friend. And then, he told us about the event in the car. It was the first time that he’d ever admitted anything publicly. We talked to Mary Ann the next day, and she said that he’d never gone into detail with her about what exactly had happened. And he talked to her that night about it.”
He then says he thinks the incident “may have happened more than once” while addressing the subject of whether Bob Broberg was hiding the fact he was gay. He explained:
“He never talked about that. I mean, he says that he’s not. He chose very certainly to stay with the church and to stay with his family. And that was something that he was very committed to. Both those things are the two most important things, really, in his life. Church and family.”
Make sure you read the whole interview here because it’s a fascinating insight into how the story unfolded.
I think my work is officially done so I’m just going to look at some more memes.
Here’s one for free:
Images via Netflix/Distractify
Charismatic, witty, charming, engaging - four things Joshua Rogers will never be. Thankfully, he’s a semi-competent editor, who, after graduating university with two mostly pointless degrees, joined The Hook two years ago. He subsequently honed his writing skills over several features and investigative pieces, arguably letting The Hook audience in on way too much of his personal life.