A devastating two hour documentary based on Lawrence Wright's book of the same name. Scientology is laid bare by a film that skilfully knits together archive footage, testimonials from former high ranking officials and public, and dramatic reconstructions.
Short-listed for 'Best Documentary' (last 15 films) at the 88th Academy Awards 2016. See more »
(at around 8 mins) When Paul Haggis is discussing his beginnings with the church, a clip is shown claiming to be "London, Ontario." What is actually shown is a view of downtown Hamilton, Ontario, looking east from King Street and James Street. The bus clearly reads "West Hamilton". Also visible: Woolworth's, the Wright House, and Gore Park - downtown Hamilton landmarks. See more »
I finally get to OT 3 and they give me the secret materials, which I've been hearing about all this time. They're hand written by Hubbard. You'd have to keep them in a locked briefcase, be very cautious because they would always say if this gets out it's dangerous to people. It can actually do them harm if they are not adequately prepared. And I read it and it doesn't make any sense... I think, I remember for one fleeting second thinking well maybe it's an insanity test. Maybe if we believe ...
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I moved to Hollywood in 1989. My first experience with Scientology rank-and-file was seeing crowds of Sea Org teenagers milling about Hollywood Boulevard in their fake naval uniforms. I was like, what is this? The Navy docked in port? Uh, no, the port's 25 miles away. Halloween is two weeks away, so what is the costume party all about? Scientology had a lot more members then, so there were dozens of these people wandering around, trying to look important and accomplished. All of them probably under 20 years old. They all looked like children playing dress up. I just smirked and shook my head. It was a combination of hatred and sadness that I felt for these poor children. Many times later on, passing the by the Scientology "Testing Center," I got hit up on the sidewalk for a free "personality test," or maybe it was a "stress test" by that point, I can't remember. I took one look at the zombie-like girl with the plastered smile, and just laughed. I wanted to tell her, I see right through your lousy sales technique. That smile is not real. You're miserable. You're trying to sell books and register new members and are failing miserably. I wish I could have helped her. I wish I could have told her, you know, it's okay to be grumpy. It's okay not to smile 100& of the time. We're all humans and we have emotions. That's just how it is. I can see somebody being grumpy especially doing the job that you're doing. You think Scientology works somehow? You're trying to audit away your emotions? That means you're attempting to audit away your humanity.
Years later, I started running into several books laying bare the psychosis of L. Ron Hubbard and his army (sorry, navy) of hypnotized, brainwashed robots. Then I started to get mad. Mad that this organized fraud mafia masquerading as a religion existed and there was apparently no way anyone could prosecute them for their crimes. Then, when the internet became a thing, the word began to spread far and wide about the ongoing criminal activities of Scientology. Human trafficking, kidnapping, slave labor, espionage, wholesale fraud, negligent homicide.
With Going Clear, the true facts about Scientology are going to be revealed to the public at large. Many people watch HBO. The scales are going to fall from their eyes. So many people in the public probably don't think much about Scientology, and if they do, they think of it as that wacky alien worshipping, e-meter using religion that Tom Cruise belongs to. This film will change that perception. There are a lot of shocking facts here, and Oscar winning documentary film director Alex Gibney delivers them in a stunning presentation. The film just flew by. I was on the edge of my seat for a lot of it, and I knew most of the story.
Just to add, as a long time Scientology watcher (I have never been a member, but living in the proximity of their facilities for years I can't help but see them around from time to time), very little of this was new information to me. But the way that Gibney presents things using the language of film is powerful and engrossing. For people not versed in the subject, this is a fantastic primer on the madness that is Scientology. The approach of having people tell their personal stories, mixed in with archival footage, really humanizes the film.
Gibney has a lot of ground to cover. He takes a look at the life story of L. Ron Hubbard, a lot of his lies and crimes, the founding and rise of the Church of Scientology, Hubbard's death and the dictatorship since that time of one David Miscavige. The film also explicitly calls out the two highest profile Scientologists, John Travolta and Tom Cruise, and accuses them of culpability in the large range of abuses that the Church perpetrates on their low level staff, who get paid 60 cents an hour.
There are just so many bizarre tales, wacky stories, unbelievable occurrences, that a two hour movie is not enough. (Would you like to hear about the time that Scientology tried to take over the government of Morocco?) But it is a stunning introduction that touches on a majority of the important points. The life of L. Ron Hubbard alone could be great material for a lengthy TV series lasting several seasons about the long strange life of a sociopath, at least as watchable as Breaking Bad if not more so, except the stories would all be true events that actually happened.
If you are one of those people that dismiss Scientology as just a bunch of harmless idiots, I urge you to watch this film and get the real story of what a dangerous, power mad organization Scientology really is. You won't regret spending the two hours.
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