Going Clear: Scientology and The Prison of Belief
HBO Documentary Films in association with Sky Atlantic and Jigsaw Productions
Lawrence Wright, on whose book Alex Gibney’s Scientology documentary is based, says on camera that he did not set out to do an exposé, just to understand the cult-like religion founded by L. Ron Hubbard. Like the book, the film demonstrates that in this case understanding is exposé. Numerous former church officials and disenchanted, embarrassed ex-adherents, including screenwriter Paul Haggis (Crash), deliver corrosive testimonials about corruption and abusive tactics used to control men and women who have given over their minds and money in the pursuit of Scientology’s promises to make them happier, more successful and “clear” of trauma from their current and past lives. “When you’re in the organization,” says one ex-member of long stand-ing, “all the good that happens to you is because of Scientology, and everything that isn’t good is your fault.” Still, the most damaging evidence may be the film’s straightforward biographical section that reveals, with public records and his own letters, Hubbard’s snake-oil history. He was a pulp-fiction writer who concocted a strange brew of sci-fi and psychotherapy and found it remarkably marketable. Raking in money and surrounded by sycophants, says ex-wife Sara Northrup, he began to believe he was god-like, a savior “who could cure man’s psychological ills.” For its detailed documentation of Scientology’s history and abuses, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief wins a Peabody Award.
PRIMARY PRODUCTION CREDITS
Executive Producers: Sheila Nevins, Chris Wilson. Supervising Producer: Sara Bernstein. Producers: Alex Gibney, Lawrence Wright, Kristen Vaurio. Director: Alex Gibney. Writer: Alex Gibney. Director of Photography: Sam Painter. Editor: Andy Grieve. Associate Producers: Lauren Wolf, Jacqui Lewis. Additional Editing: Hannah Vanderlan. Composer: Will Bates. Executive Producer for Sky: Celia Taylor.