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Review: Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
03.12.2015
9 10

PLOT: An in-depth expose of Scientology, from its founding by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, through its relentless rise in popularity throughout the eighties and nineties.

REVIEW: GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF is absolutely incendiary entertainment. The latest doc from Alex Gibney (THE ARMSTRONG LIE, WE STEAL SECRETS and many more) this expose aims to once and for all blow the lid off one of the most controversial organizations of the last half century – The Church of Scientology. While recently the church's reputation has fallen into the gutter, in the nineties it seemed all-powerful in Hollywood, with most of the leading actors of the era being devout members. To this day, John Travolta and especially Tom Cruise remain devoted to it, and due to their highly litigious nature, very few ex-members with any kind of profile have gone on record against it (notably Nicole Kidman).

However, some of the church's former higher-ups have in fact turned against the church, and their stories are what Gibney relies on here, along with a wealth of documentary footage that casts a lot of suspicion on an organization that seems almost comical when you know just a little about it, but takes on a far more sinister air the deeper you go into its history and policies.

While I'd wager the best-ever takedown of Scientology was the infamous South Park episode “Trapped in the Closet,” GOING CLEAR is a very user-friendly and informative guide to the so-called “religion's” history, with it originally emerging as the brainchild of sci-fi pulp writer L. Ron Hubbard. Rare-interview footage paints of picture of a deranged man who somehow managed to hold sway over thousands of followers. The craziest thing about the religion is how its convoluted, space-opera style creation story is readily accepted by the members, who seem to honestly believe stories about intergalactic war-lords and Xenu and volcanoes holding the souls of “thetans” who enter our bodies at birth. It's all so-insane, with even former member Paul Haggis (director of CRASH) speaking in disbelief about how he'd only been told the story after contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of his life to the church. Yet, he stayed on...

But, where GOING CLEAR gets really disturbing is when it goes into the cult of personality new church-head David Miscavidge has built around himself. This part of the story reveals defacto prison camps and virtual slave labor. Miscavidge himself is presented as hyper detached from reality, with him and his cronies parading around in tailor-made, militaristic outfits and such. Video footage from opulent rallies that are uncomfortably reminiscent of Leni Riefenstahl's TRIUMPH OF THE WILL are especially damning, with footage showing people like Cruise saluting L. Ron Hubbard's portrait or Travolta serenading him with “happy birthday”– years after he died (although they seem to think he's transcended his body rather than passed-away) and crowing about their tax exempt status.

Anyone going into this wanting gossip on the many celebrity members probably won't come away with any new information, although previously told tales, including Cruise's contentious breakup with Nicole Kidman are related here by church insiders who vouch for the accuracy of the stories. These range from funny – such as Cruise having the Church plant a meadow for him so he could run through it with Kidman – to the scary, with it suggested that Kidman's phones may have been tapped on Miscavidge's orders. It's also theorized that people like Travolta, who have revealed all of their deepest darkest secrets in auditing sessions, are virtual prisoners of the church, who've been known to have their critics followed and wage campaigns of misinformation against former members. There's a lot of very disturbing footage featuring dead-eyed members harassing people like former second-in-command Mark Rathburn. Yet, former members admit that their devotion was so strong that they didn't even realize their human rights were being denied to them. It's crazy to think such seemingly-intelligent people could so readily fall for what the church is preaching.

GOING CLEAR's only failing is that no one on the Scientology side of the fence agreed to be interviewed, although all things considered it seems unlikely anyone would have the courage to go toe-to-toe with Gibney. Otherwise, this is thought-provoking and a daring expose that probably would have never seen the light of day had it been made at the church's height. Certainly, as they continue to lose influence, the next few years will likely provide us with even more revelations about the way they conduct themselves, but until then GOING CLEAR is absolutely comprehensive and a must see.

Extra Tidbit: GOING CLEAR opens in limited release this weekend, and premieres on HBO March 29th.
Source: JoBlo.com

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+1
12:20PM on 03/13/2015
Can't wait to see this. Looking forward to this almost as much as the start of GoT.
Can't wait to see this. Looking forward to this almost as much as the start of GoT.
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11:06AM on 03/13/2015

Can't believe people believe this junk

I think believing in a man, born to a virgin, with magical healing powers who's actually the son of an invisible all powerful sky being, whose zombie corpse rises into the heavens on an invisible spacecraft is much more reasonable.
I think believing in a man, born to a virgin, with magical healing powers who's actually the son of an invisible all powerful sky being, whose zombie corpse rises into the heavens on an invisible spacecraft is much more reasonable.
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1:29PM on 03/13/2015
The catch of Christianity is appropriation. Remember the time of Jesus took place when the Romans occupied the Middle East. While Jesus, a rabbi, was seen as a radical for calling out high end clerics and clergy for turning the synagogues into more of a piggy banks and for dedicating his attention for working with the poor when it was unheard made him a target for older more orthodox members of the faith so much so it ultimately led to his demise. Now fast forward hundreds of years later and
The catch of Christianity is appropriation. Remember the time of Jesus took place when the Romans occupied the Middle East. While Jesus, a rabbi, was seen as a radical for calling out high end clerics and clergy for turning the synagogues into more of a piggy banks and for dedicating his attention for working with the poor when it was unheard made him a target for older more orthodox members of the faith so much so it ultimately led to his demise. Now fast forward hundreds of years later and his message and story was taking on a life of their own and continued growing something not even the Romans and their faith dwindling in their own appropriated Greek gods could have predicted so like the Greeks, the Romans appropriated first the Torah and later the word and life of Jesus creating the Roman Catholic church with saints as the new Greek gods (and mistranslating the actual words of Jesus because the language spoken was long dead by the time the change was made).
3:05PM on 03/13/2015
That's a pretty interesting take on it, man. Good stuff.
That's a pretty interesting take on it, man. Good stuff.
10:38AM on 03/14/2015
The problem with trying to figure out the Jesus narrative is that there are no original manuscripts of the gospels in existence, there is no historical record of his existence, and what texts we do have were written decades after the supposed fact and compiled into a holy book. Not all of them, of course, since some were not included in the book when they voted on it a few centuries after the alleged events.

With more and more evidence and understanding of history, the number of people making
The problem with trying to figure out the Jesus narrative is that there are no original manuscripts of the gospels in existence, there is no historical record of his existence, and what texts we do have were written decades after the supposed fact and compiled into a holy book. Not all of them, of course, since some were not included in the book when they voted on it a few centuries after the alleged events.

With more and more evidence and understanding of history, the number of people making a case for Jesus as a myth is growing. The argument can be made for both sides, mythicism is slowly winning out.
5:33AM on 03/15/2015
Yah it the fact that people can believe in this shit, as well as other made up religions, that makes me take it a bit easier on Christians. If people can be duped into believing stuff that's only decades old how long is it going to take them to wake up and stop believe the stuff that's thousands of years old.

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Yah it the fact that people can believe in this shit, as well as other made up religions, that makes me take it a bit easier on Christians. If people can be duped into believing stuff that's only decades old how long is it going to take them to wake up and stop believe the stuff that's thousands of years old.

[link]
9:59AM on 03/13/2015

Scientology may be battered, but they're not out

There are still plenty of people duped into this cult - with John Travolta, Tom Cruise, Kirstie Alley and many other celebrities still in there, it's not going away any time soon. It's good to see documentaries like this keeping the heat on Scientology; let's hope it continues. I'll be looking out for this.
There are still plenty of people duped into this cult - with John Travolta, Tom Cruise, Kirstie Alley and many other celebrities still in there, it's not going away any time soon. It's good to see documentaries like this keeping the heat on Scientology; let's hope it continues. I'll be looking out for this.
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+2
6:39AM on 03/13/2015
As someone who is both fascinated and deeply disturbed by the religion, this is something I think I should watch. It's amazing that they are still so prominent, with their massive structure in LA and their museum of psychology.
As someone who is both fascinated and deeply disturbed by the religion, this is something I think I should watch. It's amazing that they are still so prominent, with their massive structure in LA and their museum of psychology.
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5:26AM on 03/13/2015
Why am I only hearing about this now!!!! Bad, Bad! Joblo!
Why am I only hearing about this now!!!! Bad, Bad! Joblo!
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1:53AM on 03/13/2015
The last 3 paragraphs made this documentary sounds like a horror movie. I've got to watch this.
The last 3 paragraphs made this documentary sounds like a horror movie. I've got to watch this.
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1:48AM on 03/13/2015
applause
applause
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