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The Unabomber has died. Watch these 3 documentaries and movies about his life

The New York Times is reporting that the infamous Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, died in prison today, possibly by suicide, at the age of 81. Kaczynski was imprisoned for almost three decades after he embarked on a deadly terror campaign from 1979 to 1996 to further his anti-technology and anti-industrialization agenda. There was so little information about Kaczynski’s identity that the FBI put the case under the heading “University and Airline Bomber,” which in turn led to the Unabomber moniker being coined the media.

Kaczynski’s undoing was his desire to get his manifesto in front of people. After demanding that newspapers publish his manifesto, Industrial Society and Its Future, Kaczynski’s brother, David Kaczynski, recognized his writing style and turned in his brother to the FBI. Kaczynski maintained that he was not insane, and he was sentenced to eight consecutive life sentences in 1998.

Hollywood naturally took an interest in Kaczynski’s story and adapted it into films and TV shows while also lifting elements of Kaczynski’s life for loosely inspired scripts. Kaczynski’s life has also been examined in multiple documentaries. No single project can fully shed light on why Kaczynski felt the need to kill in order to achieve his goals, but the following projects do allow us to understand more about what drove him to become the Unabomber.

Unabomber: In His Own Words (2020)

Promotional art for Unabomber: In His Own Words featuring Ted Kaczynski.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Genre: Documentary
Stars: Ted Kaczynski

Unabomber: In His Own Words is a true crime documentary on Netflix that lives up to the promise of the title. Kaczynski’s diary does offer greater insight into his state of mind, as the episodes explore his past as a gifted academic and his transformation into a violent terrorist. For all of his ravings, it’s easy to forget that Kaczynski was once considered brilliant, and this series also explores how he eluded capture for so long, as well as his desire to shape his own narrative even while behind bars.

Ted K (2021)

Sharlto Copley in Ted K.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Genre: Drama
Stars: Sharlto Copley, Drew Powell, Travis W. Bruyer, Wayne Pyle, Tahmus Rounds

Ted K features Sharlto Copley in the title role of Ted Kaczynski, and the movie largely keeps its focus on him. The story begins in the early 1970s as Kaczynski tries to retreat from the modern world, only to find it encroaching upon his life even while he lives in the wilderness. Out of a desire for revenge, Kaczynski begins a campaign of terror that sets off the longest manhunt in the history of the FBI.

Manhunt: Unabomber (2017)

Paul Bettany as Ted Kaczynski in Manhunt: Unabomber.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Genre: Drama
Stars: Sam Worthington, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Bobb, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Lynn Collins

Manhunt: Unabomber takes place in two different time periods, 1995 and 1997. In ’95, FBI agent Jim Fitzgerald (Avatar: The Way of Water‘s Sam Worthington) and his team pore over the Unabomber’s manifesto in hopes of uncovering clues to his identity. Two years later, Fitzgerald is out of the FBI and living in seclusion before he is drawn back into service to interrogate the captive Ted Kaczynski (WandaVision‘s Paul Bettany) and convince him to plead guilty ahead of his trial. However, Kaczynski has his own plans, and he actually seems to believe that he could walk free.

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Blair Marnell
Blair Marnell has been an entertainment journalist for over 15 years. His bylines have appeared in Wizard Magazine, Geek…
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