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Ghosts From The Past on - The Best Documentaries... Instantly On Demand

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Ex-con and junkie Viggo faced a decision when he came out of prison. Deciding to go clean, he had to confront the realities of his life – including his dark and disturbing upbringing. This painful journey into his past sees Viggo and his sisters struggle to come to terms with the incestuous relationships that defined their insular family. This brooding documentary, illustrated with a rich family archive, paints a powerful portrait of a broken family.

“All I basically did was keep busy so I didn't have time to stop and think. Not until I ended up in jail did I start thinking about my life.” After a traumatic childhood, tainted by physical and sexual abuse at the hands of his father and brother, Viggo descended into criminality. This lifestyle, however, came to an abrupt end when he found himself incarcerated. “Then I thought ‘I've had a great life, you know.’ But the more I thought about it, the clearer it became to me that I didn't have a great life at all, really.” It was this moment of realisation that set Viggo on a new path towards a better future, a future which began with facing his past.

It was his sister Vonnie, though, that really bore the full brunt of their father’s behaviour. When their mother died whilst the children were all young, it was Vonnie that was forced into her position as mother to the children, and wife to her father. “It's a gradual thing. It starts off with very small things. And at a certain point we started having a relationship.” This culminated with bearing her child’s father in her early twenties. “I was 21. I got pregnant by Dad. Dad arranged for it to be aborted.” But it was keeping her second child that really cemented their relationship, whilst damaging the rest of family.

When their father’s attention was consumed by the new child, Viggo especially was affected. His childhood desire to impress his father, combined with the fear and horror he felt, left him in an emotional quandary. Although his father’s attention had proved disastrous, the lack of it seemed no better for him. “I started to demand his attention. I got jealous. So I began to use lots of heroin. Then I went up to Dad and said: ‘Dad, I'm hooked.’ ... And Dad said: ‘Right, but where's little Vonnie?’”

The further they delve into their past together, the more Viggo and his sisters realise that making peace with their past won't be a quick fix. However far the family have tried to escape this history, they still find the black shadow of their father looming over them.


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