The Mesa is a desolate area of 15 square miles in New Mexico where around 400 people are joined together in a loosely knit community that tries to live "off the grid" of modern conviences, paid work and legal restrictions.
As someone who came of age in the counter-culture of the late 1980's, some of the Mesa residents reminded me of the sort of middle age hippies I met at Rainbow Gatherings. However, the Mesa also includes a large number of military vets and others drawn to guns and aggresssive behavior. What brings these folks together is a committment to "roughing it" in order to live outsides the rules and requirements of mainstream society.
Whether you view these people as well intentioned freedom seekers or dangerous crackpots really depends on your perspective. Personally, I found Mesa to include a little bit of both. For example, I really liked Stan, an older man who kept pigs and goats, apparently trying to live off the land the way his family had been doing for generations. He also seemed to be a very kind hearted fellow, willing to take in and mentor runaway teens who had nowhere else to go. There was also Mama Philips, a former psychiatric nurse dedicated to providing stability and emotional nurturing to her neighbors. On the other hand, Mesa did seem to have a large number of very troubled individuals. For instance, one of ex-military guys spoke of "eye for a eye" revenge killings as the best solution to community conflicts.
The subject matter is indeed interesting. But I give this doc 5 stars because of the high quality of film making. The cinematography was excellent, the scenes well edited and the whole package put together in a way that manintained my interest throughout. By the end, I really did care about these people and the community they live in.