GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF Rating: NNNN
Where to watch: iTunes
Many faiths make space for doubt. Alex Gibney’s Going Clear: Scientology And The Prison Of Belief demonstrates that one belief system uses it as a weapon.
Gibney’s highly anticipated documentary puts as much of Lawrence Wright’s 2013 book as possible into two hours of screen time, exploring the history of L. Ron Hubbard’s manufactured religion and the damage it’s done to its followers thanks to a structure built around courting celebrity members and exploiting everyone else.
Going Clear makes its case through interviews with journalists, testimony from ex-members (including filmmaker Paul Haggis, actor Jason Beghe and former church lieutenants Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder) and footage from internal videos and promotional material featuring MVPs like John Travolta and Tom Cruise, whose tangled histories with Scientology are also dipped into here.
Even so, Gibney barely scratches the surface of Wright’s book – the mystery surrounding current church leader David Miscavige’s vanished wife is never mentioned, for instance. But the doc’s still an unnerving examination of a belief system requiring adherents to actively convince themselves that the only way to reach enlightenment is to force themselves deeper and deeper inside it. 120 minutes.