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Going Clear

After reading Lawrence Wright's fascinating and disturbing book GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF, I was thrilled to hear that HBO was making a documentary version. It doesn't disappoint.

Documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney (ENRON: the Smartest Guys in the Room) delivers copious amounts of information and intelligence in a little over two hours.

Starting with the complete fabrication by L Ron Hubbard of his adventurous life (the truth is far from heroic and defined in great detail) one sits in wonder that the man could spin such a yarn about his career. It's 100% bullshit but the blind masses line up behind him in droves as he decides to create a religion for tax free profits that measure in the billions.

The first half of the film detailing Hubbard's life as a prolific author, rotten soldier, philadnering husband and all-around lowlife establishes a base that make later events seem all the more startling.

After Dianetics hits book stores and Hubbard decides the best way to print money is to create a tax exempt religion, Scientology is born.

The level of detail and credibility with which the mental, physical and power abuse is detailed throughout is jaw dropping.

As with the book, you are left wondering how so many people can be sucked into such foolishness (but dont get me started on that topic!).

Many former senior members of the church tell their tales to the camera. Stories of kidnapping, child abuse and near torture abound.

The second half of the film details the current church leaders and their expansion of the "church" worldwide. The ongoing scope of the madness is beyond imagination.

Academy Award winning Screenwriter Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby, Crash, Casino Royale) is superb in detailing his many years as a loyal church supporter and then his emerging horror as he realizes that its leader is nuts, its teachings are B level science fiction and its crimes are rampant.

John Travolta manages to emerge as a nice man held captive by an organization with a LOT of personal dirt on him to keep him in line.

Tom Cruise on the other hand, emerges as a self-important lunatic driving everyone around him away in service of his beloved corporation.

Fast moving, intelligent and riveting, GOING CLEAR is a must see and gets an A.

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