My Scientology Movie is a documentary film, written by and starring Louis Theroux, as he takes an unconventional approach toward learning more about the world of Scientology, a body of religious beliefs and practices that is the brainchild of American author, L. Ron. Hubbard.
The film reconstructs and documents various nefarious incidences that took place at the Church of Scientology and as witnessed by a former senior church official, Mark Rathburn, and other ex-Scientology practitioners. Theroux’s documentary focuses primarily on the alleged violence practitioners endured in their time with the church as well as the lives of those who have left the church.
Theroux provides us with an inside look into the culture of Scientology and we are shown the true lengths senior practitioners take in order to ‘teach’ their members. Focused on the church’s current leader, David Miscavige, the reconstructions of real life events show the alleged violence and torture that members face at the hands of their leader. This is well done and shown in a way that truly illustrates the severity and magnitude of the church’s actions through the use of actors and expert advice from ex-Scientologists, who we clearly see throughout the documentary as having a great deal of anger over the ordeals they endured while at the church as well as deep emotional regret and awareness of the life they led and the things they did while practicing Scientology.
As a documentary showing off the negative, and perhaps truer, side of the church, the Church of Scientology retaliated by placing Theroux and his film crew under surveillance. By filming in real time, there are several moments in the film that simply depict how ignorant, bigoted and somewhat arrogant some Scientology practitioners can be. We are given the opportunity to see the effects the church on all those who were previously members and have now chosen to leave. It’s incredibly sad to think that current members hassle and threaten ex-members and practitioners, simply because they made a choice that was different to what is expected; that is to leave the church and its beliefs.
One of the most prominent scenes in the entire film, which truly showcases the harsh effects of leaving the church, is the rather emotional moment when it becomes very much apparent that there is no real life outside the church; friends are harder to come by, employment is difficult to secure and most cruelly, ex-members are bullied. The way in which this film illustrates this is marvelous and incredibly eye-opening.
While educational and illustrates the ways in which Scientology is vastly different compared to other religions, the one thing that I found that I would have liked to see more of is the thoughts of current Scientology practitioners. I prefer seeing and hearing both sides of the story before making a judgement. The inclusion of Tom Cruise’s interview appeared much too far-fetched due to the nature and personality of the actor himself.
One thing to note though is that this film is more of a ‘making of’ documentary and not the final film that was being made by Theroux. Even though I learnt a fair amount about Scientology in this film, it would have been so much more satisfying to be able to watch the final finished film that Theroux was making in order to know whether or not the final product would be something that viewers could really enjoy.
A documentary on a what may be a touchy subject, My Scientology Movie does wonders to educate the world on the practices of Scientology. Just be warned, this film may not be for everyone and I would recommend keeping an open mind while watching the film.
My Scientology Movie will be released on DVD on November 10th.