Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief movie full length review - Undeniably engrossing and too shocking to ignore
Many can agree that religion stands tall as one of the most controversial topics, and has been since the beginning of time.
When engaging in crucial conversations about religious beliefs with your family, friends, or anyone in general; topics like Christianity, Atheism, Buddism, Judaism, or any other religion may be brought up. Then there is the newly found Scientology, a religion found by L. Ron Hubbard, a World War II veteran who journeyed from a lonely military deserter to a highly persuasive leader of this mysterious religion in which many including government officials describe as "corrupt", "strange", or "sinister", too many words to name at the top of my head. Based on the religious practices by the church and the belief system as a whole, it's not too difficult to see why people would conclude to such opinions like these. This jaw-dropping documentary directed by Alex Gibney paints a vivid picture about the works and practices in the Church of Scientology. It begins with a biographical study of L. Ron Hubbard from his tumultuous relationship with his first wife Margaret Grubb, to the finding of the Church of Scientology in the early 1950s, to the rise of followers who worshiped Hubbard as a treatment to mankind, to the morally corrupt practices during the continuation of the church years after his death of a stroke in 1986. The film includes various interviews and news clips by L. Ron Hubbard and the church's chairman David Miscavige as well as some notable celebrities like Paul Haggis, director of the 2005 Oscar winner 'Crash' and actors like John Travolta and Tom Cruise who've risen as some of the most recognized Scientologists in America, and perhaps the world. It is a gripping documentary that shows that sometimes reality is stranger than fiction.
This film is more likely than not what I would call somewhat unrealistic if it were made as a suspense thriller. However, this picture is not anything fiction. This is not a documentary dealing with some tragic historical event or a particular individual, it is a documentary dealing with something a deeply corrupt organization that's operating for the past six decades and is still going on today. Diving into crucial aspects such as L. Ron Hubbard's motivations in the foundation, church's abnormal practices by the followers, the various court cases conflicting with the church, and the overall belief system of the Church that sound more like elements of sci-fi flick; this film does not shy away from details or does it try to meander crucial facts, though some may argue that Alex Gibney aims for a bias direction. The further the film ventures through these spine-chilling topics, the more it captures your interest as it progresses, you become hungry for more and more information as the film goes on. Throughout the two hours, you can't help but think about actors like Tom Cruise and become pessimistic about how it could affect his life and possibly his career judging by how the Church of Scientology, according to many, manipulated him into divorcing his lover Nicole Kidman because they saw her as an enemy, though Cruise himself disclaims this. It also makes you wonder about how they played in role in the split between him and his wife Katie Holmes, although the documentary surprisingly never covers this.
The Church of Scientology has been involved with crime, espionage, privacy violations and other heinous acts to protect their beliefs, and the law enforcement has tried time and time again to put a stop to their behavior but have struggled due to the interference by the freedom of religion of the first amendment. From then on, the controversial lifestyle of the church has continued and have intruded with other businesses and organizations including the legal system. The more you learn you about this, the more infuriated you feel about the unsettling influence it has on the members of the church, particularly on John Travolta and Tom Cruise who once held Hollywood's most crowd-pleasing image but experience a decline in their reputation for their involvement in the church. Viewers may ask why do they just leave, from the information the film gathers, leaving the church is nowhere near as easy as one might imagine. In fact, it is one of the most dangerous situations a member of the church could make. The church does not accept leavings of the church very well and enact heinous retaliations of those attempt to do so, hence the subtitle "Prison of Belief". According to CEO David Miscavige, a member is either full into the church or not in the church at all.
Going Clear: Scientology and The Prison of Belief is a highly engrossing documentary of one of the most controversial organizations in the world. It is a film that is destined to leave viewers swallowing and engage in deep conversations long after the credits roll. This is by far one of the most thought-provoking and important documentaries everyone needs to see.