Sympathy For The Devil: The True Story Of The Process Church Of The Final Judgement (Monster Fest)
Mary Ann & Robert De Grimston
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“What is The Process?” is the question ringing throughout Neil Edwards’ fascinating documentary, Sympathy For The Devil. The quick answer is that The Process is shorthand for the cult known as The Process Church Of The Final Judgement. The long answer, found in this documentary, delves a bit deeper.
A splinter group from Scientology, The Process, with their long flowing cloaks and intense stares, were known throughout 1960s London as the “mind benders of Mayfair.” Led by Mary Ann and Robert De Grimston – who were considered to be subversives by L. Ron Hubbard – the group offered an ideology that Christ and Satan would one day be reconciled to judge humanity for its sins. They held candle lit ceremonies and rubbed shoulders with the likes of The Beatles. They even had a magazine that talked of their members as if they were celebrities themselves. And all of it wasn’t without at least a little bit of black humour. In one issue of their publication, one member is introduced as loving chaos, but hating Barbra Cartland.
And that’s the strength of Edwards’ film: he slices through the collective fear and awe of the outside world – his opening is top heavy with the rumours and gossip of the 60s – to focus on the heart of the group and reveal them to be people far removed from the satanic status that plagued them in the days of The Manson Family and Son Of Sam. Of course, this does have the counter effect of having to sacrifice (no pun intended) a more complete history of the group’s early days, and Mary Ann and Robert’s booting from The Church Of Scientology. That, however, is a tale for another day. As it stands, Sympathy For The Devil does exactly what its title suggests, and provides a voice to a group who kicked against the establishment, and then found themselves getting kicked back. Fascinating stuff.