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‘Snowden’ (review)

snowden-movie-posterProduced by Moritz Borman, Eric Kopeloff,
Philip Schulz-Deyle, Fernando Sulichin
Screenplay by Kieran Fitzgerald, Oliver Stone
Based on The Snowden Files by Luke Harding and
Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena
Directed by Oliver Stone
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley,
Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson,
Scott Eastwood, Logan Marshall-Green,
Timothy Olyphant, Ben Schnetzer, Nicolas Cage,
LaKeith Lee Stanfield, Rhys Ifans

At a certain point, you have to wonder what Oliver Stone’s agenda is.  For the past two decades his focus has primarily been his interpretation of historical events.  With his latest film, Snowden, I found myself at a crossroads.

I enjoyed the film.  The performances were solid and the story was captivating and enlightening.  But therein lies the problem; because it’s an Oliver Stone film I can’t trust the narrative.  His “take” on history is often presented as such; his version of events that are often skewed or in many cases “reinterpreted” for the sake of the narrative.  This line gets blurred even further with Snowden.

Why?  Well first of all, Edward Snowden appears in it toward the end of the film, playing himself.  It’s an unnecessary cameo (he takes over as himself from Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the film’s final moments).  Is this appearance an endorsement?  Is it a testimony that the film is accurate.  Does it matter.

Edward Snowden’s story is important and his selfless act was important.  He stood up for something he believed was hurting people and went against the U.S. government to prove it; exposing not only lies, but also a secret agenda without regulation.

Inspired in part by the Academy Award winning documentary Citizenfour, which captured Snowden meeting with journalist Glenn Greenwald, and director Laura Poitras who filmed it, the film surprisingly was based on the books The Snowden Files by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena, instead of Greenwald’s own No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, considering the journalist’s involvement in the case.

Snowden’s story is important and the film is worth seeing.  Just don’t forget who made it; that carries an agenda of it’s very own.

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