“Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” (2015) – Review by Nicholas Casletto

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“Going Clear” presents the clearest, most terrifying look into Scientology to date

Controversial is one of the many words to describe the self-proclaimed religion of Scientology.  It has been in the spotlight since its inception in the 1950s and for all of the wrong reasons. It’s a world unfamiliar to so many of us and yet we criticize it so much without knowing its inner workings. Well, now we can criticize it to the end of time while knowing some if it’s most painstakingly terrifying and revealing secretes in “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief”. Lawrence Wright, who also published a novel of the same title, gives us one of the most revealing and brave documentaries I have seen in some time.

The documentary truly dives into the mythology of it all, because that’s exactly what it is, mythology. Starting off with the history of its founder and cult leader L. Ron Hubbard. How the science fiction writer turned cult leader started all of this by simply writing on his typewriter. The power that he held over these individuals following him were somewhat god like. This is something I urge you all to experience for yourself, seeing as my telling of his origins would not even compare to the way it is portrayed in this fantastic documentary.

The film has interviews with dozens of individuals whom left the church for one reason or another. Their revealing tales of the years they spent and the journeys they embarked range from uplifting, to unsettling, to absolutely terrifying. The true pain and suffering these poor souls endured make you truly feel for them. You can’t blame them for getting involved with the church in the first place. An organization where all of your problems get solved? Sign me up!

The interviews are all extremely well done, with the ex-members of the church, including “Crash” director Paul Haggis not holding back any details. The way the interviews are woven between clips, graphics and on sight location shots are all well executed. The story flows gracefully from the beginning of the movement, to the modern day Scientology religion.

I am being very vague describing the events of this film knowingly. You absolutely need to see it for yourself, in all its terrifying reveals. Even reading the most descriptive of books would not compare to the true and raw emotion of people whom have experienced these events first hand. This had a lot of buzz coming out of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival this year and now we have the privilege of having it at our fingertips on HBO. I urge all of you to check it out, leave a comment and tell me your thoughts. It is without a doubt the rawest depiction of this madness I have ever seen. It is a very well done documentary that should be seen by everyone at least once. Please go clear your schedule for two hours and watch “Going Clear”.

 

My Grade: A

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