A controversial film is coming soon to a mailbox near you in the form of a straight-to-video promotional giveaway by the Church of Scientology. The movie was originally slated for a theatrical release but the Church was unable to find a theater willing to carry it. The film is entitled "The Passion of L. Ron Hubbard" and many consider it a film designed almost as anti-psychologist propaganda while others see it as tacit endorsement of attempts to overthrow the United States government. The movie is - according to the Church of Scientology anyway - a historical account of the rise to power of the Church's prophet and semi-successful science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard. It details how he came to possess the fabled Tablet of the Clear and ultimately how psychologists conspired with the late FBI director J. Edgar Hoover to bring about Hubbard's demise.
The storyline and execution of the movie has angered psychologists who were already at odds with the Church of Scientology and has even spread to a number of other health professionals who think that the film may promote hate crime against their peers. Normally I would not involve myself in such tangled disputes, but yesterday I received a preview copy of "The Passion of L. Ron Hubbard" in the mail. Having watched the film in its entirety (no small task, it's over three hours not including the "Making Of" on the DVD extras) I feel compelled to now report on it in as much detail as time and space allows.
SynopsisHubbard preaches to his people. Click the image for a larger version.The film begins with the mythical birth of L. Ron Hubbard. According to Scientologists their great leader was brought into this world in 1911 in Tilden, Nebraska. Under the shelter of little more than a tin and clapboard shack, his angelic mother Ledora May Hubbard squeezes out the founder of Scientology onto dusty floorboards. His father, a junior officer in the Navy, picks the boy up and hands holds him aloft so that the sunlight breaking through the dust storm outside frames little Ron Hubbard's head in a nimbus of light. Then the door bangs open and a mysterious and slightly ominous Native American man walks in.
He points a gnarled finger at wee baby Hubbard and intones words in the ancient language of the Black Foot Indians. As if struck by the hand of God, Ledora begins translating what the Black Foot Medicine Man is saying. The Medicine Man is named "Old Tom" and he explains that an eagle told him to search out the boy at his moment of birth and tell him of his destiny. A war looms on the horizon, bringing strange otherworldly forces that only a man of incredible spiritual and intellectual fortitude could hope to save mankind from. Old Tom tells the Hubbards that it is young L. Ron's destiny to be this leader and to wield his staggering genius against these alien minds that would scheme to destroy us all. Then there is this really awesome CGI sequence where the Indian turns to dust and floats out the window, carried off by the storm.
Twenty years later, Ron is a young and handsome man with a flowing mane of red hair and a clench-toothed snake's voice that would inspire any Thetan to hide its children in fear. Ron walks among the people, clad in a robe that enhances his impressive physique, and offers blessings to those who kneel at his feet. The reason for this transformation into a spiritual leader is quickly discovered when a withered old man with a gangrenous leg collapses at Hubbard's feet. Hubbard helps the man up, and then lays his hands upon the man's chest and allows his eyes to roll back into his head. This really cool lightning appears around his face like the stuff you see in the Termiantor movies when the Terminator appears from the future. Hubbard starts yelling and then you see this ghost thing come out of the guy and fly into the air. It has this weird face that looks like a skull with a wet paper bag on it and it's speaking in this screechy gibberish voice.Hoover listens to the chanting of the psychiatrists. Click the image for a larger version.After things calm down we see that the old man's leg has healed and Hubbard says "that was your body Thetan, the evil spirit that inhabits us all, but it had grown powerful within you and was destroying your leg." Then Hubbard explained how every person had the power to cast out their body's Thetan by unlocking their mind's inner potential. Then Hubbard passed a hat around and it was quickly filled with coins. Not until the coins reached the top of the hat did Hubbard begin to explain the process of removing the body's Thetan. Then there was this really cool montage out in this rocky desert area that looked a lot like Costa Mesa, California where L. Ron Hubbard teaches the people all of these focusing techniques and then all at once they throw their body Thetans out and L. Ron Hubbard declares them "clear". From what I gathered being "clear" is like being "safe" in baseball only magical.
Hubbard doesn't have it easy though, after training his squad of zen-like-only-much-gayer sidekicks he finds himself running afoul of the powerful psychologist and psychiatrist movement. Looking like an army of Sigmund Freuds in their dark suits and glasses, the psychiatrist lobby for J. Edgar Hoover to "get rid of Hubbard", as one of the psychiatrists named Harold Crankenshrink puts it. Hoover initially turns a deaf ear on the psychiatrists and Hubbard is free to go through the streets and share the truth of the Thetans with the people.
Meanwhile, in Harold Crankenshrink's castle we see that the leader of the psychiatrists is communing with an otherworldly spirit of some sort. The glowing green mist hovers above his head and announces that it is "Xenu" and its Thetan invasion must not be stopped. It implores Crankenshrink to not only continue to spread "[his] perverse quackery through the unsuspecting populace" but also to give a box of flawless diamond gems to Hoover as a bribe for his assistance. Crankenshrink takes the hoard of gems and heads immediately to the FBI Tower Perilous, where Hoover and his gold-armored G-men are suiting up to sell drugs in Harlem again.Crankenshrink and Xenu are working as a team to destroy Hubbard. Click the image for a larger version.Hoover initially dismisses Crankenshrink, but when he sees the box of gems his eyes light up and he agrees to arrest L. Ron Hubbard for overturning a cart of "Chicken Soup For the Soul" books. While the G-men prepare to raid Hubbard's SEA ORG facility we see Hubbard standing on a cliff side accompanied by several of his inept followers.
He holds in his hands a stone tablet on which he claims are the five great weaknesses of Xenu and the Thetans which man can use to defeat them once and for all. He holds the tablet above his head and recites "the first method for the unraveling of Xenu's plot is-" but he is interrupted by Hoover's men who fire a net-gun at him. Hubbard's followers begin to fight back, but Hubbard implores them that "we shall get them under Fair Game, we will fight with tooth and nail using our greatest allies in the legal profession".
Hubbard is whisked away to a holding cell in the FBI Tower where Hoover intends to interrogate him and then perhaps leave him to stew for a few months. Unbeknownst to Hoover, Crankenshrink has gathered hundreds of psychologists outside the FBI tower and then all begin chanting and clamoring for Hubbard to be imprisoned inside a volcano. "Let his fate be like Xenu!" one crazed psychiatrist is heard yelling. Hoover, reluctant to go along with such a cruel form of "justice", relents and agrees to imprison Hubbard inside a volcano. He then symbolically and literally washes his hands from his perch atop the FBI Tower.Hubbard preaches to his people. Click the image for a larger version.Hubbard is marched through the streets with a "brain shackle" around his skull to keep him from using his mind's potential to escape. Initially the psychiatrists hurl insults at Hubbard, but then Scientologists and well-wishers begin laying a carpet of clams for him to walk on. At last Hubbard is brought to the top of a volcano and he says a few words to his followers before he is lowered, shackled and secured to a plate, into the fiery depths of the volcano. The movie's final shot is of Hubbard staring stoically ahead and lava flowing and erupting all around him.
Before the credits, in bold white letters, it says "HE WILL RISE" on the screen for several seconds
I'm no expert on Scientology, but I understand that they have some serious problems with psychologists and psychiatrists. Unfortunately, this movie portrays them as almost demonic and allied with evil supernatural forces that the Scientologists are sworn to do battle with. What the movie neglects to mention are all the people who were robbed blind, duped, and even killed by the Scientologists during the years before and after L. Ron Hubbard died. And yes, L. Ron Hubbard died, he was not placed in a volcano like they would have you believe.
On the other hand, the only people who will watch this movie are Scientologists and members of the media, so I don't really predict it will influence anyone into beating up or killing psychiatrists who wasn't already planning on doing it before they saw the movie. Besides, the current head of the Church of Scientology said it was great and told every church member to buy as many copies as they could to make its sales look good. That's sort of like the Pope saying "The Passion of Christ" was "mmmmmmddddfffffffff" and then drooling on himself like that kooky Pope loves to do these days.
Extra special thanks go to SA Goon Shmorky, who did the illustrations for this update on very short notice and has unwittingly provided me with a nice "L. Ron Hubbard in shackles" desktop wallpaper. In addition, Something Awful offers these images and this article to Operation Clambake for the express purposes of doing anything they can to shine the light on just how hilariously evil the Church of Scientology is. I'm sure they can never have too many cartoons of L. Ron Hubbard laying around to help them in their fight.
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