Following Mea Maxima Culpa, his investigation into the Catholic Church, Academy Award-winner Alex Gibney turns his gaze to Scientology in Going Clear, based on the book of the same name by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright.
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Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of BeliefDirected byAlex Gibney
I wonder if, after months of investigating the manufacturing of belief, and tactics of persuasion, the filmmaking process itself becomes fraught with caution and self-reflection. I hope so. Maybe that's what was behind Gibney's choice to use textbook documentary techniques, and to stick with already-known facts. Still, what results is effective & watchable. (It's not called tried & true for nothing.) Not bad at all.
Going Clear did a great job of getting its audience riled up with further exposure to the atrocities for which the church is known. The interviews with former long-time church members were definitely illuminating but for as fired up as Going Clear got me it felt like more of a (justified) one-sided slam piece than an objective documentary.
Scientology is an abomination that could prosper only in a Neoliberal country like the US. Gibney shows how the factors that allowed this cult to develop and prosper: weakened governmental structures (a tamed IRS), widespread ignorance, cult of celebrity, and the existence privatized para-military organizations. All in the name of free expression.
Gibney's expose on the so-called church of Scientology attempts to cast light on the practices and human rights violations performed by this seemingly corrupt strange organization. Unfortunately on reflection I had no better understanding of Scientology coming out then I did before watching and still ponder how anyone can sink belief in such silliness, mind you one could say that about most organized religions.
More than offering a horrifying look at the inner works of the Church of Scientology, Gibney's documentary analyzes how doctrines imprison people in their own beliefs and the psychological games that benefit no one except those who attempt to profit from the believers' naïveté. Gibney showcases the nature of man, their lack of capability to deal with the unknown and the forever haunting struggle to be meaningful.
Now that this particular exhibit has been presented to the jury, it would seem that faith is not, in fact, in accordance w/ the popular doctrine, the opposite of fear. The faith of the fearful often serves the powerfulish. Standard documentary practices are put to service in testimony. Are fifty people operating under the name Alex Gibney, or is Alex Gibney simply running on methamphetamine and blank checks?