Saturday, 7 September 2013

We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks (2013) - ★★★★

Director: Alex Gibney
Writer: Alex Gibney

The Story of WikiLeaks would rank up there as one of the most interesting stories from the past 10 years. This is a pretty thorough and engrossing documentary, showing signs of bias here and there. Overall it paints a pretty cloudy picture of the infamous Julian Assange. In the end, I feel like I don't know anything about the REAL Assange. That's not really what interested me though. I wanted facts... cold hard facts. While we got some pretty good facts, I found the actual story to be so bloody interesting, especially when it focused on the REAL man behind the US military leaks, Bradley Manning. It's not a wildly entertaining documentary, or a very emotionally stirring documentary... it's just really effective and purely interesting.

I was never very knowledgable about the issues surrounding the WikiLeaks scandal. The media painted it as this: Assange = Bad, United States = Right to be angry. This documentary not only sheds light on Julian Assange, but the history of WikiLeaks and the methods in which they stole secrets. There were moments where I felt outraged at the US, and moments where I was really put off by Assange's character. It shows mostly a favourable view on WikiLeaks, but I feel they didn't really want to send a clear message. All they did was paint a hot and cold picture of Assange, then show us the intricate and interesting world of espionage and hacking on the internet. It's really, really engrossing stuff.

To be perfectly honest, I got really annoyed of seeing Julian's face. I really liked the man at the beginning of the documentary, who was portrayed as a sort of martyr for those who believe in 'the truth setting the world free.' As time goes on, the doco starts showing shades of grey in his character. He's not as truthful as once thought, particularly when it came to his sexual assault (rape) case in Sweden. Although this shouldn't cloud up our resolve when it comes to the issue of WikiLeaks and its detrimental impacts, it did cause me to question whether his intentions are pure. Is he in it to be a good man, or is he in it for the fame? I feel that by the end of all the controversy, the latter is the side that won out.

The most interesting aspect of the documentary was by far Bradley Manning's story. BY FAR. He was a deeply confused, troubled human being. The role he played in blowing the whistle on the US's war-crimes was very admirable. It was also deeply saddening to witness some of his confusions about his sexual orientation and transgender feelings. The way they painted Manning's character, and really let us get to know the man, was what made his actions so affecting to me. He was a US military intelligence collector (or something like that), and he found he couldn't handle seeing the atrocities being committed by the US to Afghan and Iraqi civilians. There may have been fatal impacts to many people due to the whistle-blowing (the documentary certainly didn't show us), but this was information that needed to get out. It showed us information that every US citizen should see, for these atrocities were being committed in their name. It's just very intriguing to me that no matter how you view Manning as a person, he didn't sell the documents to the highest bidder... he just uploaded it to the public domain for everyone to see. I tip my hat to him for that.

A deeply troubled man, Bradley Manning was courageous in his actions.
I could write many things about my opinion on the whole WikiLeaks fiasco. In the end, it's my passion to review this movie, not to analyse political and worldwide issues. This is a fantastic documentary. Very informative, very well made, very effective, and extremely interesting. If espionage, modern history and great documentaries are your cup of tea, then you should try We Steal Secrets. 

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