LEFT - Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Edward Snowden from Snowden (2016) RIGHT - The real Edward Snowden from Citizenfour (2014)
In my opinion, Snowden is a dramatized prequel/sequel to Citizenfour (2014), the real life documentary of Edward Snowden’s life-defining event – revealing the extents of the Global surveillance disclosures.
After watching either, or both, you’ll notice sticky notes over your phone cameras, webcams, tape over microphones. Yes, you’ll do it yourself without thinking. Paranoia is a symptom of watching both films. But, as we know it, it’s perfectly natural and acceptable. The depths of what these government agencies can do is startling. Be warned, if you don’t know much about the Edward Snowden story, it will change your life forever. That said…
Watch the documentary first – Citizenfour. Then watch Snowden. It’s the perfect weekend movie combo.
Both films left me questioning what I would do in that situation. Would I have enough righteous indignation to just give up my life so a majority of indifferent people would know the truth? Would you?
I suppose I would. After seeing Edward Snowden’s net worth around $8.4 million, and current speaking appearances at $200k a pop… I think I could be a hero. But, did he know it would turn out this posh? I doubt it.
Back to the film.
Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt did an amazing job portraying Edward Snowden. There is a scene at the end of the film when they transition between Gordon-Levitt and Snowden, and at first, I wasn’t 100% sure they made the switch. In fact, it took a few minutes to be sure. It was uncanny.
Citizenfour didn’t show the depths of Snowden’s talents and expertise. When the news broke, people question how a contractor could know all of this information. Or why a contractor was allowed into the secret facilities. After the film, Snowden, you’ll see why. But, I wonder how much of that is true as well.
The main tense “action” sequence has me questioning it all. It showed how Edward Snowden was able to sneak out all that data. It was hidden in a Rubik’s Cube! Upon a search for validity to the method, I found that Snowden will not admit how he did it, but the Rubik’s Cube might not be far from the truth. So, everything else is in question. But, it’s still a thrilling scene.
The film closes with the real Edward Snowden talking about privacy, human right, et-al to what looked like a college audience. Thunderous cheering and applause followed. That group saw him as a hero, for sure. And it closed with the real Snowden walking off frame inside, what I take it as his Russian asylum home. A super-comfy looking cabin. Just remembering those digs now… so nice.
As engineers, I believe this is another set of required viewings (Hidden Figures, being another). Watch it, get paranoid and inspired. I have found, since 2013, the number of smartphone camera covering options has increased beyond 45 degrees. Businesses started just from the issue of regaining what little privacy we have.
I have an idea: Speaker system that outputs just the right amount of noise to keep all internet connected microphones (and speakers turned into microphones) from hearing a thing. This runs constantly. Eventually, the deafening sound will become everyday. Oh… and modulate that sound to defeat the Borg-like NSA adaptability.
Pros of Snowden and Citizenfour:
- Seeing important history, real and portrayed.
- Becoming more aware of the real-world situation.
- Awesome Rubik’s Cube techniques.
Cons of just Snowden (2016):
- Snowden (2016) might not be entirely accurate with what really happened. We want the truth!!! Right?
I rate Citizenfour (2014) a 4.44 out of 5.00, can’t go wrong with documentaries and real info.
Snowden (2016) is a 3.61 of 5.00