Taking on the Church of Scientology is always a bold move. It has shown resilient staying power and its members (including a number of well-known celebrities) do not hazard to back down from a fight. Knowing this, HBO went all out when it undertook the task of going after the cultish group in its new documentary ‘Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief’. The film is a collaborative effort between documentarian Alex Gibney and Lawrence Wright, the investigative reporter who wrote the book much of the film is based on.
‘Going Clear’ provides both an inside perspective and analysis of just what it is that makes Scientology so appealing to so many people. ‘Crash’ director Paul Haggis provides the film a fascinating and legitimizing boost by offering up his own personal experiences with Scientology and explaining why he so easily fell under its spell. Haggis’s stories are bolstered by a number of other ex-members who each tell stories of their experiences with the church.
The film not only delves into the dark underbelly of Scientology’s psychological practices, but it also offers up a history of the church and a somewhat in-depth look at its practices. From its battles against the IRS for tax-exempt status and billions of dollars to its reeducation camps and critic silencing campaigns there is more than enough attention grabbing and chilling stuff packed into this movie.
Scientology is a strange phenomenon, and Gibney’s documentary is a no-holds barred critical tour de force. ‘Going Clear’ does not take its subject lightly and attempts to give a complete picture of Scientology. The film is well made and engrossing. From its very first moments it draws you in and holds you captive for the entirety of its two-hour run time.
In true fashion, almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy, the film has already drawn the ire of Scientologists everywhere, adding credibility to many of its claims. ‘Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief’ is a must-watch documentary.