Abducted in Plain Sight: Documentary Review

Credit: Top Knot Films

Abduction. Kidnapping. Crazy isn’t it? How we blindly trust people? Just like we blindly trust bus drivers to get us to the right bus stop, or we trust Lyft or Uber drivers to get us to our location safely. We assume that everyone is nice and friendly, not weird and creepy. We assume that anyone can be welcomed in our homes and not be predators to our children. In Abducted in Plain Sight Directed by Skye Borgman, a little girl is abducted in her own home. Through the uses of ethos, pathos, and logos, the director effectively persuades its audience to be more mindful and cautious of who is in their life because they never know what their intentions are.

Abducted in Plain Sight is a documentary directed by Skye Borgman. This documentary discusses Jan Broberg’s past where she was abducted twice by Robert Berchtold. The first time it happened was when she was 12. The second time it occurred was when she was 14. In the 1970s, Robert and his wife, Gail, moved into Pocatello, Idaho. The Brobergs welcomed him with open arms into their home. “We had the type of neighborhood that you never locked your doors. Always open. You could trust everyone in the neighborhood.” said Jan’s mother, Mary Ann (2:20). Robert targeted Jan at first sight, always coming to play with her. He abducted her twice: once, making her believe the aliens had plans for her, and the second time by putting her in a Catholic school under an alias. He was charged both times for the kidnappings. The first time, Gail threatened them into dropping the charges or else she would’ve exposed the relationship Mary Anna and Robert had. The second time, he landed in jail, but from within, he was able to make Bob Broberg’s life a living hell because he was so angry that Bob was Jan’s father. It turned out, he was targeting young girls because as a child, his aunt targeted him.

Before I began watching this documentary, all I knew was that this was about a little girl who was abducted twice. One can’t expect this documentary to be about a girl who got abducted in her own home by her neighbor. Nor can they expect that the predator can manipulate everyone so easily. It came as a surprise after I learned that she was kidnapped by her neighbor.

Skye Borgman appeals to my emotions by opening up the documentary with pictures of a family who seemed very happy. This gave warm feelings like love and happiness. In the background, the family members are talking about Jan and who she was when she was a little girl before the abduction occurred. Throughout the documentary, there would be suspenseful music playing when something bad was happening. This appealed to my emotions by making me feel tensed up. I also felt scared for Jan and the Broberg family. As a child, you’ll believe just about anything. The Broberg family had no idea that she was getting raped.

The director emphasizes many important scenes in this documentary. Borgman uses shots like close-ups to portray different scenes. A close-up shot is when the camera is not far from the subject and is used to portray details in the thing it’s focused on. For example, the scene when Jan was abducted the first time showed her face close up as she was waking up, allowing the audience to know that she was drugged and taken to an unfamiliar place. The next scene shows a close up of a tape recorder of an “alien” talking to Jan to make her believe she was taken from them. Other times that the documentary uses a close-up shot is when they showed Robert calling the Brobergs and acting concerned about Jan. Robert enrolled Jan into an all-girls catholic school under an alias, but her family believes she ran away Robert effectively uses this strategy to prove that he doesn’t know where Jan is.

Jan and her family are the main tellers of this story. Throughout the 1970s, it was nothing but hell for them. They tell their story in the background while there are “flashbacks” being played in the background. It provides real recordings of them in court after Jan has grown up to realize what Robert has done to her. Mary Ann wrote a book about Jan’s story called Stolen Innocence: The Jan Broberg Story. It shows them in the “present-day” to show that this has happened a long time ago. They show real emotions and tears to prove how this still affects them even though it occurred years ago. There is no room for bias in this sensitive story.

After watching this documentary, I didn’t know what to feel other than fear, rage, and sympathy. I feel fear because I fear that this could happen to me or to my kids in the future. I feel rage because men are willing to do what their heart desires and they don’t care about who gets hurt. I feel sympathy because as a woman, I know what that feels like. I understand the PTSD she gets when something that traumatically hurts is talked about. This was something very significant in her life that happened. Abducted in Plain Sight changed my views on people. There are those who consider “normal” and those who can be alarming. I have learned that I have to be more aware of the people who enter my life and not get so close so easily.

Scary, isn’t it? The idea of getting kidnapped without knowing you’re being kidnapped. Being told that aliens have a mission for you to conceive a baby with a grown man to save the world and being raped countless times. Be careful and mindful about who comes into your life or your home. You can never trust anyone so easily in this cruel world we live in. Watch what your kids are watching or playing on the phone or the computer. You never know if someone is targeting them that way or trying to influence them into doing things you know you wouldn’t want them. Be alert. Stay cautious.