“Going Clear: Scientology And The Prison Of Belief” Is One Of The Decade’s Most Acclaimed Documentaries
April 19, 2017 — Going Clear: Scientology and The Prison of Belief is one of the most acclaimed documentaries of the past few years.
Originally presented at the Sundance Film Festival, the controversial film is largely based on interviews with former members of the church. Much of the material presented is unflattering to the church; it is based on a book by Lawrence Wright, who was a member of the church for many years, and who appears in the film.
Ex-members describe blackmail, children taken from their mothers, physical abuse and the refusal of church leaders to allow members to seek medical help for serious conditions.
CO$, as the church is known, is wildly rich and capable of throwing an army of lawyers at anyone who writes (or makes films) denigrating them. For many years news sources have been afraid of discussing the church because of the slew of lawsuits likely to hit them for any infractions.
Of course, the highest profile Scientologist — and one who is discussed at some length in the film — is Tom Cruise.
The movie claims that Cruise’s marriage to Nicole Kidman was frowned upon by higher-ups in the organization. She had not been picked out or vetted by them; in addition, her father was a psychiatrist and the church does not believe in psychiatry. But Cruise insisted. According to the film Kidman became known as a P.T.S. (Potential Trouble Source) and, to their dismay, Cruise’s connection to the church seemed somewhat less intense during their marriage.
Sources for the film claim that David Miscavige, the head of the church, set in motion a plan intended to break the couple up. He had officials from the church meet with Cruise to work on his paranoia, resulting in Cruise’s decision to wire-tap his wife’s phone. The couple’s children were also turned against their mother by members to insure that in the case of a “break-up,” the kids would go with Cruise.
Which is exactly what happened after the 11-year marriage ended.The film was nominated for 7 Emmy Awards (it won 3, including Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special) and the prestigious Peabody Award, which recognizes distinguished and meritorious service by American radio and television stations, networks, online media, producing organizations, and individuals. The Awards reflect “Excellence On Its Own Terms.” In naming Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, the Board of Jurors stated: “More than an exposé, more like a demolition, Alex Gibney’s film about the history and hardball tactics of the Church of Scientology draws its persuasive power from letters and documents contradicting the fabrications of its late founder, L. Ron Hubbard, and from blistering testimonials by prominent ex-church officials and former members about abuse and corruption.”
Going Clear is available on DVD and Blu-ray or you can stream it immediately on Amazon Video.