Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief

Year: 2015
Studio: HBO
Director: Alex Gibney
Producer: Alex Gibney/Lawrence Wright
Writer: Alex Gibney/Lawrence Wright

Trust in journalism is at an all time low, and I recently came up with an idea about why. There's a much more detailed description to it, but I think the public knows just how untrustworthy big business and the government are, and all the media (ocassionally) provides them with is the proof.

In the same way, we've all heard the wacky stories about Scientology, from the infamous lawsuits to them setting up Tom Cruise's next girlfriend, brotastic leader David Miscavige's exploits and L Ron Hubbard's seagoing tax dodge fleet of indentured slaves/servants. All Alex Gibney does here is find the proof and lay it out in a structured way.

Does that make it a lesser film? Absolutely not – the revelations are no less riveting, and coming as they do from so many formerly very high placed figures in the Church, you can't help but think the whole thing is unravelling from the inside. Who else but Miscavige must be left?

It's based on Lawrence Wright's book, and without having read that it's hard to say how much of the digging the film actually does – a lot of the information and talking heads might already have been lined by by Wright – but even though there are so many directions, themes and ideas, Gibney keeps the flow intact very effectively.

It weaves you through the story of the returned war pilot Hubbard, the dark sides the Church probably doesn't want anyone knowing about him, how he formed Scientology (the 'why' isn't explicit but is strongly inferred by his outlook and actions) and where it's gone from there.

Everything you imagine after what we've all heard about it turns out to be true, from the desert punishment centre/concentration camp to the story about the spirits being thrown into volcanoes by a 10,000 year old alien, and Gibney (with Wright's guidance, presumably) gets some very damming interviews, material and footage that proves it al.

Throughout the investigation, the film also pretty effortlessly stitches in the theme promised by the title – about how intelligent, cynical and in most cases liberal people can fall for something like it so completely.

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