Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015) Movie Review: The Subtitle Says it All

Drinking Game

Take a Drink: for each audit

Take a Drink: two words- David Miscavige

Take a Drink: whenever someone actually has something good to say about Scientology

Take a Drink: for sheer nonsense

Do a Shot: whenever the deluge of awful becomes too much

Community Review


Movie Review

By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –

For a subject that is so notoriously secretive and litigious, there sure is a lot of information out there on The Church of Scientology.  The world isn’t lacking for first person narratives, Youtube videos and blogs, and even documentaries, and Scientology doesn’t shy from treating us public displays of insanity for free.

I really appreciated this.

Going Clear is Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks) and HBO’s stab at documenting the genesis, evolution, and staggering abuses of The Church of Scientology.

A Toast

The book this doc is based on, also titled Going Clear, wasn’t intended to be a tear-down of Scientology, but an investigation into its appeal and hold on its members, and Gibney follows suit.  He gathers together an impressive amount of experts and former church members for interviews, and starts by having the latter describe why they joined.  None of them have wholly negative things to say- they joined to change the world, to receive emotional and mental support, and for many other logical reasons.  It’s not Xenu and Adele Dazeem right from the start.


This man was normal once.

However, Going Clear ultimately traces how all that blind idealism and those good vibes go wrong.  Part of that is history.  From the start, L. Ron Hubbard’s audacity, tall tale proclivities, and vicious pride were readily apparent, but interestingly, it seems as though he became a true believer of his own creation by the end.

The next and current era of the Church is David Miscavige’s, and this is where things get much more dark.  Here’s where Gibney methodically documents how Scientology has become a multi-billion dollar tax shelter ruthlessly keeping its rapidly declining numbers in line through psychological control techniques.  Wait… can I call them psychological?

The last main topic the film covers are the curious cases of John Travolta and Tom Cruise.  If you wonder how they can possibly still be Scientologists, or how their influence has helped the Church immeasurably, Going Clear takes a solid swing at answering that.  A last raise of the glass to Gibney’s slick reenactments.  The trippy 1950s meets acid Xenu sequence is a particular treat.

Beer Two

For Scientology fans (is that the right word… fans?), you’re likely to be familiar with much if not all of the information here.  I believe you’ll still find it worth your time, though.  Also, what would have really set this doc apart would have been an official included response by Miscavige, or any current indoctrinated Scientologist.  Of course… that didn’t happen.

We’ve got nothing to hide… except for this.


Going Clear is perhaps the most comprehensive, succinct account of that uniquely American phenomenon/disgrace, The Church of Scientology.  “You don’t get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion”, indeed.


About Henry J. Fromage

Movieboozer is a humor website and drinking games are intended for entertainment purposes only, please drink responsibly.

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