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Today at The Daily Beast: Ron and Leni, a Scientology mystery solved

[Leni Riefenstahl in London and L. Ron Hubbard in South Africa in 1960]

Over at The Daily Beast today we have a lengthy feature we’ve been working on for some time: A piece that dives into one of the oddest collaborations of the 20th century, the brief partnership of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and Nazi Germany’s favorite documentary filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl.

It’s long been known that they spent a few weeks in 1960 working together on the idea of producing a new version of Riefenstahl’s directorial debut, the 1932 film ‘Das blaue Licht’ (‘The Blue Light’).

But there was little information about it and almost nothing about how the partnership had come together. Now, not only have we solved that mystery, we actually managed to get our hands on the screenplay they wrote together, which has never before been described!

We’re thrilled that we got to tell this story for The Daily Beast, and we hope you give it a look. But we also thought we’d supplement that piece with some material here that didn’t fit our larger story. Namely, was the script any good?



‘Das blaue Licht’ was Riefenstahl’s directorial debut, and starred her as Junta, a 19th-century woman who lives in a cabin in the Italian Dolomites. The residents of the nearby village of Santa Maria have decided she is a witch, and she does appear to have a special power — the ability to scale a sheer peak that casts a spell on the town every full moon with a mysterious blue light which lures the young men of the village to their deaths when they try to climb it.

A German artist named Vigo then arrives to the Italian hamlet, and he falls for Junta but also discovers her secret about how to safely reach the blue light — which is actually a grotto filled with valuable crystals that catch the moonlight — and then informs the village, which plunders it. After Junta discovers that her secret cave has been looted, she falls to her death.

The film has very little dialogue and a thin plot, but its strength, particularly for its time, was Riefenstahl’s attention to the landscape, time-lapse photography, and stunning alpine climbing sequences.

The 1960 version that Riefenstahl and Hubbard came up with is extremely faithful to the original.

Page after page of the script isn’t so much a screenplay as the excruciatingly detailed description, shot by shot, of every angle, close-up, breath of wind, and sigh by Junta.

Not sure just exactly what we were looking at, we decided to bring in the experts.

Josh Olson is the Academy Award-nominated writer of the 2005 film A History of Violence and a longtime friend. He agreed to help us out, and he brought along two of his friends, Daniel Waters, writer of the movie Heathers, and John Brancato, who, with Michael Ferris, wrote the screenplays for The Game, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, and Terminator Salvation.

The three of them gathered at Olson’s house to watch a DVD version of ‘The Blue Light,’ and then discussed the 1960 screenplay with us.

Olson confirmed our suspicion that the script is unusual. “By 1960, screenplays looked pretty much like the ones you’re familiar with now. This is more of a style that went out in the 1920s or 1930s,” he said.

“It’s a different format, one that people used more often in the past, and I think in Europe,” Brancato added. “It was interesting to see something done in that format, with the sheer amount of attention paid to every detail and each individual noise.”

“How many different ways can you describe the sound of the wind?” Olson asked.

All three writers told us they were surprised to see how closely the 1960 script was to the original film, as if every shot from the original were being recreated.


Olson said he suspected that although it had Hubbard’s name on it, the script was actually by Riefenstahl. “It’s a director’s script,” he said, with all of its camera angles and descriptions of close and long shots.


[A sample page, and with lots of wind.]

The biggest differences were in added dialog that made explicit some things that were only implied in the original movie.

The host at the inn, for example, explains to Vigo that a landslide on the peak above the town had created the strange situation that is luring young men to their deaths.

HOST: (superstitious whisper) Since the land fell away, every night when there is a full moon it shines on the rock wall and a blue light can be seen. Our young men are drawn to it and always one more cross beside the road. My youngest son was the last. There will be others.

And what has put the village at odds with Junta is that she is seemingly immune from the mountain’s danger.

HOST: (Whispering superstitiously) Why can only she climb to the mountain peak? Why can only that girl Junta reach the blue light? The boys, better climbers than she, have fallen…(Low and gratingly) This Junta is a damned witch, sent by the Devil to put a curse on this town. She is not of our blood.

“It takes the things that were implicit in the movie and makes them more out in the open, more on the nose,” Brancato said. “You wouldn’t call it artful dialogue. The emotions are completely on the surface. The nuance from the original has been eliminated.”

“The attempt to ‘modernize’ the movie was pretty woeful, more typing than writing, with laborious attempts to make subtext into text,” Waters added. “The only real improvement in the screenplay was a milking of Vigo and Junta not speaking the same language, notably a late conversation where Vigo is openly saying ‘I’m going to town and telling them about the crystals so we can all be rich!’ and Junta, uncomprehending, keeps responding ‘You’re not breaking up with me, are you?'”

In a script this tedious, you take the humorous moments where you can find them.

Other than those nuance-free additions that spell things out more plainly, the film goes exactly where its 1932 predecessor did, and ends up in the same place, with Junta dead and deified.

Brancato wondered why Hubbard and Riefenstahl thought 1960 was a good time to remake the movie, and so faithfully.

“This is not a movie that the world is clamoring for in 1960,” he said. While praising the original film for its lyrical storytelling, he added that it was clearly a product of the politics of its time. “In Germany in 1932, it’s a society where there’s a lot of fighting in the streets between the left and right, between Communists and the Nazis. In that context this is very much a right wing movie. The superior soul stays above the foul herd down in the valley. It’s straight Nietzschean stuff. And I wonder if that’s what Hubbard responded to.”


Also, he pointed to the way the dialogue makes things more explicit, and wondered if this was Hubbard’s contribution, and had something to do with what the Scientology leader had been writing recently.

“I wonder if he was conditioned from writing things in order to tell people what to do,” he said, referring to Hubbard’s many Scientology books and policies.

“The script reads like dialogue by someone who only writes functional prose.”

Our thanks to these accomplished writers for taking the time to slog through the script.

And we hope you take the time to read our Daily Beast story about this bizarre moment in Scientology history, and the tale of the man who brought these two unusual characters together.


Source Code

“It’s pretty hard to complete a cycle in a half a billion years. You can try. And you get it down to a million years, and of course, to get anything done in a million years and make it stick, that’s really going some, man, you’re really on your way, that’s tearing the ground up in all directions. The length of time since the birth of Chr — the alleged birth of Christ — is so short, that before you’ve gone very long on the road to OT, you could probably remember what you had for breakfast in the year 2, and during the third day of the Saturnalia or something like that. Not that you would, probably cause you as much work to remember what you had for breakfast that morning as it does now to remember what you had for breakfast yesterday, see. You probably can’t think of what you had for breakfast yesterday right now. So that is a very finite period of time. That’s a very short period of time. A couple of thousand years, nothing. I’d like a couple of thousand years just to sit on a rock and look at the scenery — one of my ambitions.” — L. Ron Hubbard, May 30, 1963


Avast, Ye Mateys

“PERSONAL HYGIENE: CS-6 and the Public Officer’s nominee should compose a short course on personal hygiene and cleanliness. A ship is a small place. In old navies the penalty was a bath with sand and canvas and a ducking for those with deficiencies.” — The Commodore, May 30, 1970



Overheard in the FreeZone

“If you’re a big enough Thetan and you stay on the Bridge, you will be like floating, your postulates creating anything you desire pretty much and you will be completely protected from any other SP’s invalidation. It’s like another world that they can’t touch. So I don’t agree with their validation affecting us. Yes, the other entities attached to us could, no doubt, but the OT levels detach all of those – and still creating magic, like creating MEST out of thin air is not possible for anybody on this planet! It’s also a mystery why in other planets why Thetans can destroy all the people on them. I projected myself in full color from all around a planet and reached down and tortured all the people just before getting implanted and coming here. So there must be some sort of ‘protection’ around this planet so other Thetans can’t do that here – maybe a force screen? But still the creating MEST out of thin air is not possible and is a mystery as of yet.”


Past is Prologue

2000: Canoe newspaper service reported that John Travolta dislikes questions about Scientology. “While on a press junket in Barcelona Spain to promote his latest film ‘Battlefield Earth’ which is based on the book by L. Ron Hubbard who founded the church, Travolta had a confrontation with a French journalist. The journalist asked Travolta why the religion wasn’t mentioned in ‘Battlefield’s’ press kit and then asked about funding for the Church of Scientology. Travolta was apparently unhappy with the line of questioning and claimed he was being ‘trapped’ by the interviewer who in turn had his video tapes confiscated for ‘verification.’ When the tapes were returned, they were blank.”


Random Howdy

“First there was the Thetaverse and the Thetans were born, and through shared agreement and control of MEST (superpowers) they created other universes and then they created the MEST universe so they could assume physical form and have a playground to play ‘games’ in and enjoy the pleasures of the flesh. But eventually they forgot all this. And I thought to myself, ‘Hey, isn’t this a Star Trek or Outer Limits episode?’”


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker


Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Held to answer for trial, next arraignment set for June 7.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Pretrial conference August 21 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for June 18.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Oral arguments were heard on July 30 at the Eleventh Circuit
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Petition to US Supreme Court submitted on May 26. Scientology has until June 25 to respond.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: California Supreme Court grants review on May 26, asks Second Appellate Division to direct Judge Steven Kleifield to show cause why he granted Scientology’s motion for arbitration.
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9 that Feshbachs can’t discharge IRS debt in bankruptcy. Dec 17: Feshbachs sign court judgment obliging them to pay entire $3.674 million tax debt, plus interest from Nov 19.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Second amended complaint filed, trial set for Nov 9, 2021.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 24.

Concluded litigation:
Dennis Nobbe, Medicare fraud, PPP loan fraud: Charged July 29. Bond revoked Sep 14. Nobbe dead, Sep 14.
Jane Doe v. Scientology (in Miami): Jane Doe dismissed the lawsuit on May 15 after the Clearwater Police dropped their criminal investigation of her allegations.



We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.


After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?



[ONE year ago] Steve Cannane wrote the book about Scientology in Australia — and now he’s on trial
[TWO years ago] Scientology’s slick new ‘Freewinds’ magazine surprisingly makes no mention of measles
[THREE years ago] Bad boys of the Sea Org: guns, drugs, murder and Scientology
[FOUR years ago] To counter Leah Remini’s return to A&E, Scientology recruits her father in smear attack
[FIVE years ago] How Scientology’s smears of Ron Miscavige could end up a bigger problem for his son Dave
[SIX years ago] Jon Atack: Auditing and recovered memory — why do Scientologists accept it as fact?
[SEVEN years ago] Three videos the Church of Scientology would rather you not watch
[EIGHT years ago] Word To Your Mother: Dianetics And Its Lack of Boundaries


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,316 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,821 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,341 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,361 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,252 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,559 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,427 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,201 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,531 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,005 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,321 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,887 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,806 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,974 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,555 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,816 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,854 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,567 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,092 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 447 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,622 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,173 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,322 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,642 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,497 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,616 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,972 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,275 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,381 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,783 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,655 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,238 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,733 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,987 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,096 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on May 30, 2021 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2020 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2020), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists | GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice | SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts | Shelly Miscavige, 15 years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


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