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Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief (2015)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 25 June 2015 (Italy)
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A documentary looking at the inner-workings of the Church of Scientology.


Alex Gibney


Alex Gibney, Lawrence Wright (book)
Won 3 Primetime Emmys. Another 4 wins & 31 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Haggis ... Himself
Jason Beghe ... Himself
Spanky Taylor Spanky Taylor ... Herself
David Miscavige ... Himself (archive footage)
John Travolta ... Himself (archive footage)
Tom Cruise ... Himself (archive footage)
Lawrence Wright Lawrence Wright ... Himself
L. Ron Hubbard ... Himself (archive footage)
Marjorie Cameron Marjorie Cameron ... Herself (archive footage)
Mike Rinder ... Himself
Tony Ortega Tony Ortega ... Himself
Antony A. Phillips Antony A. Phillips ... Himself (archive footage)
Hana Whitfield Hana Whitfield ... Herself (as Hana Eltringham Whitfield)
Kim Masters Kim Masters ... Herself
Sara Goldberg Sara Goldberg ... Herself


A devastating two hour documentary based on Lawrence Wright's book of the same name. Scientology is laid bare by a film that skilfully knits together archive footage, testimonials from former high ranking officials and public, and dramatic reconstructions.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

HBO Documentary Films





Release Date:

25 June 2015 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Going Clear See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Many film critics who reviewed the documentary quickly received emails from the Church of Scientology asking for "their side of the story" to be included in reviews of the film and warning them "not to be the mouthpiece for Alex Gibney's propaganda." See more »


(at around 8 mins) When Paul Haggis is discussing his beginnings with the church, a clip is shown claiming to be "London, Ontario." What is actually shown is a view of downtown Hamilton, Ontario, looking east from King Street and James Street. The bus clearly reads "West Hamilton". Also visible: Woolworth's, the Wright House, and Gore Park - downtown Hamilton landmarks. See more »


Paul Haggis: Cults, they prey on people, suggesting that, you know, you should be able to think for yourself and then tell you exactly how you have to think, or get out. And if you get out, there will be consequences.
See more »


Features Homeland (2011) See more »


Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)
Written by Mickey Newbury
Performed by The First Edition
Courtesy of San Juan Music Group, LTD.
See more »

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User Reviews

A peek behind the scenes of a dangerous cult
13 March 2015 | by mkittappa-239-319441See all my reviews

We've all passed the well intentioned folks in the street asking if we want to take a free stress test, or a personality test. That can't be a bad thing right? In this crazy world we all want to be able manage our stress levels, or work on our character flaws in order to succeed in life. In case you didn't know the test is the first doorway into the cult religion of Scientology.

Going clear gives us an insight into the founding, and the dark practices that go on behind the scenes of Scientology. Where L Ron Hubbard, was a selfish failure of a man possibly with delusions of grandeur who founded an obscure and weird religion, Going Clear reveals that the man who succeeded him after his death is a power mad tyrant by the name of David Miscavige.

Using Lawrence Wright's book as a basis for the research, Alex Gibney has crafted a very engaging documentary, utilizing talking head interviews with people who have been through the wringer of Scientology cut together with archive footage from multiple sources exposing the very core of Scientology. Many of the interviewees were people that had reached the highest ranks within the organization, some of them talking very candidly about the abusive practices that they were involved with on both ends; the giving and receiving. With all this going on we also see how of millions of dollars gets funneled to the privileged few at the top and how the church of Scientology can skirt the tax laws to keep all of its ill gotten gains for itself.

Of course no documentary about Scientology would be complete without commenting on it's two celebrity superstars, John Travolta and Tom Cruise. Whereas you may pity Travolta who seems to be somewhat trapped, Cruise has become quite the poster boy for the religion. Going Clear raises some important questions as to whether or not Tom Cruise is aware of the inner workings of Scientology and how much he knows about the abuses towards the rank and file of the organization.

What is most frightening though is the lengths Scientology will go to to protect its image. Hubbard wrote that the church should go on the offensive against it's critics and not be defensive, and you will see in Going Clear some of the low bottom feeding tactics Scientology uses to keep the followers in line and how it seeks to control defectors from the religion.

Gibney reserves his most scathing criticism for Miscavige, the man currently at the top of the religion, and no punches are pulled showing him to be controlling, abusive and manipulative. I won't spoil the scene for anyone who hasn't seen the documentary, but the psychological musical chairs game he plays with his some of his leadership gives us a brief look into his twisted mind.

The only thing I wish that this documentary showed was some rebuttal and defense from Scientology members, however the credits tell us that many of the top people within Scientology, Miscavige and Cruise included were invited to be interviewed, but all declined. to be on record. This is unfortunate because it would have been interesting to see what high ranking members would say in their defense of all the allegations that Going Clear makes against them.

Going clear is an important documentary in that it shows us the dangers of being sucked into a cult. Lessons from this could be applied to any personality cult religion. If you know people that are in Scientology. Maybe they have 'Disconnected' from you then this film will at least show you why your friend or family member is acting this way. Anything that helps us to understand and warn us against an unhealthy life choice is a good thing and Going Clear does just that.

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