Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief Screen 9 articles

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief


Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief Poster
  • A lazy, sensationalistic piece of cinematic journalism based on a masterpiece of narrative reportage, Alex Gibney's Going Clear takes the revelations of Lawrence Wright's work exposing the inner workings of the Church of Scientology and twists them into two hours of talking-head interviews, reenactments, and pointless scaremongering.

  • On the one hand, Going Clear has a very specific job to do. The members of the church who have fled need to articulate their stories. But too much time is wasted on the celebrity fascination, because this is presumably what makes Scientology fascinating and creepy for the average viewer. By fixating on fame, and not paying as much attention to (say) the church's international holdings, Gibney and company fall for the church's own shell game regarding the actual sites of power.

  • Mr. Gibney, who enters swinging and keeps on swinging, comes across as less interested in understanding Scientology than in exposing its secrets, which makes for a lively and watchable documentary if not an especially enlightening one.

  • Overall, the presentation of Scientology’s first three decades is sketchy and impressionistic, although the archive footage of Hubbard – including one ‘off-the-record’ audio outtake from the BBC – is undeniably fascinating.

  • At the heart of it all, Gibney has made a great film about the dangers of blind faith or, as the subtitle of “Going Clear” puts it, “the prison of belief” — a phenomenon hardly unique to Scientology, and whose consequences are all too apparent in today’s headlines.

  • The revelations in Alex Gibney’s new documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief won’t come as a huge surprise to folks who’ve read Lawrence Wright’s devastating, similarly titled book-length exposé. But any way you cut it, this is still spectacular stuff.

  • The hottest ticket in town was Alex Gibney’s Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, a remarkably well-organized movie based on Lawrence Wright’s massive similarly titled investigative book.

  • If some of the film's revelations have already surfaced online and through other sources, Going Clear distinguishes itself by tying that material into a coherent framework that provides a concise, scholarly context within which Scientology can be understood as a real system of beliefs, with roots in a specific time and place.

  • If you can dream up something weird that Scientology may have devised to hogtie its membership, chances are they’ve beaten you to it. The entire movement is an ocean of weirdness, so much so that a feature-length documentary has a job on its hands picking out the salient examples... For Gibney, fear is the glue holding the whole edifice together. The film’s strongest assault is on Miscavige himself, whom it presents as physically and mentally abusive towards his own staff.

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