With the film Snowden out now, I moved the documentary feature Citizenfour to the top of my Netflix queue. I figured the real thing might be better than a Hollywoodized version of the life and times of Edward Snowden, even if it is directed by Oliver Stone.
Citizenfour was filmed by Laura Poitras, and won an Academy Award for best documentary feature in 2015. It is rated R for language. It features journalists Glenn Greenwald (The Guardian) and Ewen MacAskill.
By now you know that Snowden made public the illegal surveillance of United States citizens by the government through telecommunications companies, such as Verizon and AT&T, etc. Whether it was advisable for Snowden to leak this story to the media rather than going through official channels, I will not argue here.
I found it unsettling though that a documentary would be filmed of Snowden meeting with the journalists who would disclose what he knew. A need for notoriety? Why does his every move from the time he arrived in Hong Kong until he leaves need to be filmed? Do you have any feelings about this? Please respond to my review if you have a feeling one way or another.
Privacy is an issue we should all be concerned about. These technological geniuses like Snowden know more than the average citizen about the ways we are spied on by those who think they need to know.
One chilling scene in the film was watching officials outright lie about doing surveillance through telecommunications companies. That is footage the director fit in there to show that they were complicit in that they knew what they were doing, and that there is a law against the indiscriminate surveillance without cause.
It was also disturbing that it was stated that if we think this is bad about doing it to American citizens, we need to know how the United States spies on the rest of the world, along with other countries, a camera on every corner. Basically, anything could be listened to.
The issue as I understood it is that if we know we are being surveilled, maybe we won’t exercise our freedom of speech, like we did in the Civil Rights era to give an example I recall. I was young in the 60’s, not old enough to be a protestor, but I watched it all on the nightly news. I think people today are less wiling to put themselves out there. A meeting of the Occupy Wall Street people shown being briefed at what they could expect if they participated would put me off ever joining in actively.
I don’t know at this point if I’ll see Snowden in the theaters. Some friends of mine saw it and said it was very good. I think Hollywood wanted to make a film about Edward Snowden knowing full well that not that many moviegoers watch documentaries. It is a shame that is the case, as a good documentary is often even more unbelievable than fiction.