Edward Snowden, Oliver Stone film reviewed

This video from the USA says about itself:

16 September 2016

Director Oliver Stone joined Ron Suskind, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, for a conversation about his upcoming film Snowden. In a both informative and entertaining Forum, Stone explained the artistic process and difficulties of translating the controversial story of Edward Snowden into a film. While answering questions from the audience, Stone touched on his work in prior films, his motivation in telling political stories through cinema, and his views on the state of America’s government surveillance programs.

On 26 November 2011, I went to see the film Snowden by Oliver Stone.

The film starts with young Edward Snowden, from a conservative military family, indignant about the 9/11 attacks, joining the United States military Special Forces. Soon, he gets injured.

Snowden switches to the CIA; where his computer skills are welcome.

The CIA also welcomes that Snowden says his inspiration is right-wing author Ayn Rand. And that he says emphatically Yes to the question whether he considers the USA to be the greatest country in the world.

However, gradually Snowden changes. Partly influenced by his girlfriend, an opponent of George W Bush’s Iraq war. Partly by what Edward Snowden learns during his CIA work. That the Bush administration’s ‘war on terror‘ and the gigantic ‘intelligence’ bureaucracy linked to it are not really about fighting terrorism; but about confrontation with other nuclear armed countries like Russia and China. And about making sure money will keep going to the military-industrial complex. And about acquiring power over the private lives of hundreds of millions of people who have nothing to do with terrorism.

Snowden finds out that a backup program which he wrote for emergency cases if United States government communication would be in trouble, is abused for drone attacks in Pakistan, killing civilians, including children.

In the film, the character Corbin O’Brian is Snowden‘s CIA mentor. The name O’Brian is probably based on the character O’Brien in George Orwell’s novel 1984. Both O’Brien and O’Brian are characters who at first to protagonists Winston Smith (in 1984) respectively Edward Snowden seem to be good guys, but turn out to be bad guys.

In spite of his increasing doubts, Snowden stays in the ‘intelligence community’ because he hopes Obama’s election victory in 2008 will change things.

However, then, in 2013, top spying bureaucrat James Clapper lies to the US Congress that the NSA supposedly is not spying on hundreds of millions of United States citizens.

That settles it for Snowden. He decides to travel to Hong Kong, to tell what he knows to Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald and independent film maker Laura Poitras.

The rest is history.

22 thoughts on “Edward Snowden, Oliver Stone film reviewed

  1. MARIA DUARTE reviews Oliver Stone’s new biopic SNOWDEN and we cast an eye over the rest of the week’s releases

    Snowden (15), directed by Oliver Stone


    MAESTRO of the historical biopic Oliver Stone once again digs deep — this time into the life of whistleblower Edward Snowden, a figure who has certainly divided opinion.

    Following Laura Poitras’s Oscar-winning documentary Citizenfour on Snowden, Stone provides a more rounded and comprehensive account of why he did what he did.

    The focus is on the human side of a man who has been living in forced exile in Moscow ever since his bombshell revelations that the National Security Agency and other US intelligence bodies have been running covert surveillance programmes on ordinary citizens, all under the guise of the “war on terror.”

    What is particularly revealing is that Snowden wasn’t the low-level analyst he has been portrayed as by the US government but was indeed a high-level operative.

    Stone, playing it safe for a change, comes up with a highly charged and nailbiting political thriller.

    It pulsates with paranoia but it lets the facts speak for themselves.

    He poses the question whether Snowden is a patriot, hero, spy or traitor but leaves it up to audiences to decide.

    Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who spent hours talking face-to-face with Snowden in Moscow pre-production, gives a commanding performance as the 29-year-old analyst, while Shailene Woodley fleshes out his loyal girlfriend Lindsay Mills.

    She comes across as his polar opposite because, at the time, Snowden was an introvert and a right-wing patriot while she was a total extrovert and anti-government.

    Though the focus on their relationship slows down the narrative somewhat, it humanises Snowden and gives an idea of the pressures the couple faced and what he gave up to go public.

    There have been calls for President Barack Obama to pardon Snowden before he leaves office but his successor Donald Trump has reportedly stated that such “dissidents” should face the death penalty.

    He won’t be returning home any time soon.



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