Five of the best documentaries streaming now on Netflix

With the array of captivating documentaries Netflix has to offer, “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” (pictured above), “Kumare,” “The Queen of Versailles,” “Hitler’s Children” and “Into The Abyss,” stand out by giving us absorbing stories with worthwhile lessons.

With the array of captivating documentaries Netflix has to offer, “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” (pictured above), “Kumare,” “The Queen of Versailles,” “Hitler’s Children” and “Into The Abyss,” stand out by giving us absorbing stories with worthwhile lessons.

Though many Netflix viewers use the streaming application to catch up on the latest television shows and movies, people often take for granted the array of captivating documentaries available. These five featured documentaries are some of the most informative, as well as intriguing, hidden gems, currently accessible.

“The Queen of Versailles”

A film showing both ostentatious lifestyles and effects of the 2008 recession, “The Queen of Versailles” delves deep into the American dream and its consequences. It follows billionaire David Siegel and his wife, Jackie, through their lavish lives in Las Vegas and their 90,000 square foot mansion under construction in Florida. But it soon takes a turn for the worst. After David’s timeshare company is attacked by the recession, the construction is postponed and they are struck with major cutbacks to their once extravagant lifestyles. “The Queen of Versailles” not only profiles problems caused by the recession, but it shines a negative light on some of America’s richest and how they try to present themselves in a society that looks up to them.

“Into The Abyss”

Esteemed documentarian Werner Herzog created this moving look into the country’s dealings with criminal punishment. It not only explores the ins and outs of capital punishment, but it also follows criminal Michael Perry and his 2001 killings. The recount of the murder case is tragic as well as haunting because of the unnerving footage and the sparse narration done by Herzog. While “Into The Abyss” profiles the case of Sandra Stotler’s murder, it doesn’t delve into whether Perry is guilty (he denies the offense). The eerie interviews with the victims’ families, various law enforcement officers and Perry eight days before his scheduled death create a disturbing yet deeply touching feature.

“Hitler’s Children”

Among the hundreds documentaries about Hitler, “Hitler’s Children” is one of the most interesting and original ever made. It follows close descendants of men in the Third Reich like Heinrich Himmler, Hans Frank, Herman Goering and Rudolf Hoess. Some of the people lead with their history, like Frank’s son, who wrote two books about his family and his father’s job as Hitler’s personal lawyer. Others like Rainer Hoess, have difficulty talking openly about their family history. One of the most powerful scenes was when Hoess visited Auschwitz, where his father grew up, and spoke to people. You could tell what an important step this was for him to move on from his history. Another moving interview was with Goering’s great niece, Bettina, who moved to Arizona, leaving her family name behind as well as deciding to never have children. Each person had different experiences but all are working to accept who they are. I appreciated that the film was not overdone, the simplicity of the filming helped to make the engrossing interviews even more significant.

“Cave of Forgotten Dreams”

Another film created by Werner Herzog is “Cave of Forgotten Dreams.” This follows a group of scientists as they capture the prehistoric Chauvet Cave in France. Though it has been closed from the public since its discovery in 1994, Herzog and his team were able to film in the cave for six days and four hours at a time. Much like his other films, “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” features little narration and riveting music as it pans over the 32,000 year old paintings. The six person team wasn’t able to touch the walls and were restricted to a 2-foot walk way at all times. While some of the science behind the cave and the people who lived there is slightly boring, the long shots of the various animal drawings are some of the most beautiful minutes of documented film. Once again, Herzog gives us a new perspective on the world through his poignant documentation.

“Kumare”

This enlightening story follows Vikram Gandhi, a filmmaker from New Jersey who goes to Arizona to become Kumare, a stereotypical Indian guru. Quicker than expected, he accumulates a large following of people that are bettering their lives through his spiritual teachings. He tries to teach people that they can find their guru within, but they all rely heavily on him for help. As he becomes attached to his disciples, he realizes how hard it will be for him to reveal his true identity.This wonderful documentary not only touches on religion and spirituality as a whole, but how our culture interprets spirituality. At first it seems solely like a social commentary, but this film does have broadening powers thanks to Kumare and his lessons.

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