Thursday, 2 July 2015

I've Just Seen: Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015)

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

http://static.rogerebert.com/uploads/movie/movie_poster/going-clear-scientology-and-the-prison-of-belief-2015/large_r8QigFdU3noIv2hcFwB2gc5xsIW.jpg
Director: Alex Gibney

This is the first documentary I have seen at the cinema. Considering the connection Scientology has to many Hollywood stars, this is rather appropriate. Going Clear is a comprehensive insight into the history of Scientology, from its founder L. Ron Hubbard up to the present day. Gibney interviews several people who were deeply involved in the 'church' for many years, including one of David Miscavige's former right-hand men, Mark Rathbun.

The film is very, very good, and its greatest strength is these interviews. The subjects all come across as normal, intelligent people, who share the audience's amazement at their own previous belief in Scientology. It is a great illustration of who is populating Scientology; they are not all strange celebrities wanting fame, but people looking for something to believe in. What was one of the more 'what the?' moments was one of the interviewees remarking that while Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc can outline their beliefs in about a minute, Scientologists would struggle to explain their beliefs to other people, and don't find out their own creation myth until they are deep into the 'church.' I've seen the documentary, and I still am not entirely sure what Scientologists believe.

This is a very good documentary from one of the best documentary-makers working in film today. I am looking forward to watching Gibney's other films.

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