Jul 30, 2016

Louis Theroux's My Scientology Movie: Taking On The World's Most Secretive 'Church'

What does the Church of Scientology have to hide?

July 29. 2016

Emily Verdouw Associate Video Editor, HuffPost Australia

Louis Theroux: My Scientology Movie, a film investigating the mysterious 'religion' created by sci-fi writer L.Ron Hubbard, is over before it even begins.

And that's no surprise. Because every story ever attempted at better understanding this 'church' by any skeptical journalist in the past, has immediately been stone-walled by Scientologists.

Which is why Louis Theroux let go of the idea over 15 years ago. After his first attempts in 2002 were quickly squashed by the powers that be.

Theroux, a journalist that has mastered gaining access and sympathies of the strangest of stranger-than-fiction subcultures around the world (and mostly in the US) was denied entry into their world.

Despite this, over a decade later, Theroux, along with director John Dower and Academy Award winning producer Simon Chinn (Searching for Sugar Man, Man on Wire) persisted and have created a documentary that still manages to explore the enigma that is Scientology while leaving the viewer with a better understanding of the lengths the church will go to to protect its inner-world and their leader -- David Miscavige.

They do this by mimicking the very methods Miscavige and his 'church' use to recruit new members. By hiring actors to tell the story.

The documentary recreates alleged events taken place under Miscavige's leadership, rumours of beatings, of anger and vitriol at anyone who threatens the instability of their leaders ego -- a man accountable to no one, and seemingly, especially not to journalists.

They do this with the help of former Scientology second-in-command Mark 'Marty' Ruthburn, who left the church in 2004 and is now their primary whistleblower.

"I was the baddest ass dude in Scientology," he tells Theroux.

Instead of having Ruthburn regurgitate the same stories he has told in the past, Theroux has him direct actors in scenes that illustrate his experiences and those other ex-members claim to have gone through. All to better understand the 'religion'.

They film the entire process of hiring actors to play high-profile members like David Miscavige and Tom Cruise, from auditions through to the final scenes.

"I find that the most inexplicable behaviour is motivated by very relatable human impulses," Theroux comments in the film.

Theroux is persistent in his questioning of everyone in the film and remains the master of pursuing awkwardness, while reaming comfortable in the moment.

He remains unshakeable even when it appears the organisation has a car tailing him for hours on end. Even as random members pop up through the course of the film harassing Ruthburn for speaking out. And even as halfway through the film, the Church of Scientology reveal they're creating their own documentary on Louis Theroux.

It's the culmination of this bizarre behaviour by the church and Theroux's mastery of awkwardness that lead to many seriously laugh-out-loud moments in the film.

But it's the kind of humour that's funny because it all seems too strange to be true.

And by the end of the film one question remains: with all efforts to rebuff Theroux and his team, what is it that the Church of Scientology has to hide?

No comments: