Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015)

(On Cable TV, September 2015) Documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney takes on the church of Scientology in Going Clear, and the result is as fascinating as any of his other movies.  Adapted from Lawrence Wright’s book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief, it’s a highly critical look at the inner workings of Scientology, featuring a number of disillusioned former high-ranking members of the organization.  After a look at the colorful life of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, Going Clear spends time detailing the recent and current activities of the organization and the reasons why several of its former members have left it.  Along the way, the relationship between Scientology and its star members John Travolta and Tom Cruise is detailed in ways to make us understand how they all benefit from the association.  It’s a slick documentary, although the “dramatic recreation” segments meant to illustrate some of the material is overdone: the interview alone are compelling enough.  Going Clear is builds to a highly critical portrait of Scientology, packaging together a lot of material that has been available for years but seldom presented in such a self-contained form.  Read the film’s Wikipedia article for more details on the ensuing controversy.

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