‘Anthracrite’: Is Netflix’s Thriller Rooted in Truth?

By Louie Fecou
Published: April 14, 2024
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'Anthacrite': Is Netflix's Thriller Rooted in Truth?
Anthracite | Image via Netflix

Anthracite is a twisted tale of suicide cults, murder, and hidden secrets, set against the beautiful scenery of the French Alps. It was also, despite not technically being a true story, inspired by a real event, which is surprising given it has one of the craziest endings in recent memory and is just generally bonkers all the way through.

But sometimes reality is stranger than even the strangest fiction, as we’ll see.

Is Anthacrite based on a true story?

The narrative of Anthracite is fictional, but it was inspired by a real-life event that may be confusing to some viewers.

The show was created and co-written by Fanny Robert, who would reveal that she was inspired by a real mass suicide that happened in the French Alps in 1995. The horrific and disturbing situation saw authorities finding the bodies of sixteen members of a cult, arranged in what was suggested to be an occult star formation.

The mass suicide seemed to be emulating rituals associated with an organization known as the Order of the Solar Temple that originated in Geneva. The controversial sect seemed to appear in 1984 and was reportedly emulating the activities of The Knights Templar.

The organization would become the focus of some unwanted attention, as allegations of fraud, arms dealing, and embezzlement started to plague their foundations, and eventually, the group founders would instigate mass suicides and murders that would lead to tougher measures against such groups across Europe.

'Anthacrite': Is Netflix's Thriller Rooted in Truth?

The Order of the Solar Temple as depicted in an episode of Occult Crimes in 2015 | Image via IMDb

Anthracite has taken the mass suicide and murders that happened in Vercors in December of 1995 as the springboard for the series. The true event saw sixteen bodies, placed in a star formation, that had been drugged, suffocated with plastic bags, and then shot and burned in a terrifying scenario. The series managed to find a true crime story and wrap it in a scripted drama, that may appeal to two different fan bases.

It has to be said, though, that the true story behind the real-life cult would have made for a grueling but interesting documentary in itself.

What is Anthracite about?

The story starts with the authorities raiding a cult headquarters where the members have committed mass suicide, with only their leader surviving.

Time jumps forward thirty years, when a murder occurs that bears a resemblance to a supposed victim of the cult leader, with the victim’s face smeared with anthracite. A young man is the prime suspect in the investigation, but is determined to prove his innocence, and along the way meets Ida, a young web sleuth on the hunt for her reporter father who has disappeared.

As they work together to uncover the truth, they start to realize that not everything is as it seems, and they have been drawn together as their fate is inextricably tied to the horrors of the past.

Who founded the real-life Order of the Solar Temple?

The Order of the Solar Temple was founded by Luc Jouret and Joseph Di Mambro in 1984.

Jouret was a Belgian homeopath, who practiced alternative medicine and would deliver lectures on the nature of spirituality. Di Mambro was a jeweler who had previously been convicted of fraud, as well as being an esotericist — someone who has certain niche knowledge and shares it only with other people initiated into a group situation.

The two would meet and using previous contacts and groups they were involved in form the Order of the Solar Temple. The meetings would involve various rituals inspired by the teachings of New Age philosophies and Theosophy.

It was reported that the various groups would consist of three to four hundred members, and as the downward spiral of the society reached a devastating zenith, seventy-seven deaths were attributed to the organized mass suicides, that many say were mass murders.

More On Anthracite:

Review | Season Recap | Filming Locations

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