Going Clear

I read Pulitzer Award-winner Lawrence Wright’s “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief” when it was first published a few years ago and couldn’t put it down. It’s a riveting, often horrifying account of the history of Scientology, but also an unstinting look at what motivates the church’s followers. One assertion that Wright made that I found particularly salient was the idea that Scientology, for all of its ills (and Wright is unsparing in detailing them), is fundamentally not much different than any other faith in the first century of its journey. That’s neither an endorsement nor an indictment, just a sober observation on Wright’s part that speaks volumes about his highly disciplined approach to the subject matter. (You can read some of the work that Wright put into “Going Clear” in his 2011 New Yorker article “The Apostate.”)

Wright’s book has since been adapted into a documentary by highly regarded filmmaker Alex Gibney under the slightly shortened title “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.” It debuted at the Sundance Film Festival last month to a warm reception. HBO has picked up rights to air it in March, and it will also run on Vimeo later in the year. There’s no trailer available yet (that I could find), but this short video from The Hollywood Reporter featuring Gibney and Wright gives a flavor of the film.

Update, 19 Feb: HBO has released the first trailer for the film, below. I also understand from folks close to the production that it will show in a theater in New York City for a limited run before it airs on HBO.