Scientology Documentary 'Going Clear' Exposes The Horrors Of The Religion

March 13, 2015 5:10 PM

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Scientology Documentary 'Going Clear' Exposes The Horrors Of The Religion

The Church of Scientology has always held a fascination with the American public—no doubt because of its foothold in celebrity culture, but also for its behind-the-scenes grotesqueries and bizarre origin stories (both its own historical roots and its scriptures creation myth). Even before Tom Cruise's highly public Born Again Scientologist phase, many of the revelations chronicled in Lawrence Wright's exposé Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief were already public knowledge in some manner. Lest we forget Richard Behar's pre-Internet Time magazine cover story "The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power" from 1991. With the release of Alex Gibney's documentary adaptation of Wright's book (which will air on HBO later this month), it might leave one to wonder if there are any new revelations to be gained from a documentary on such a dense book and subject.

Gibney's approach with Going Clear is straightforward and sometimes formally bland. It's a mostly linear presentation of Scientology's history and practices coupled with talking-head interviews with Wright and notable Church defectors, including filmmaker Paul Haggis. Haggis' defection in 2009 was t...

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