Friday, June 28, 2013

We Steal Secrets: The Story Of Wikileaks (2013)

Year: 2013
Director: Alex Gibney
Cast: Julian Assange, Adrian Lamo, Bradley Manning, James Ball
We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks opens in Australian cinemas on the 4th July 2013 and opens in the UK on the 12th July 2013

If you are starting from scratch with your Wikileaks and Julian Assange knowledge, We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks is a great place to start and learn everything you could possibly need to know about the infamous man and his ground breaking website in just over 2 hours.

However, if you are on a need to know basis with Assange and Wikileaks, while We Steal Secrets is thorough enough, it is still very pro-Wikileaks. Interestingly, it is pro-Wikileaks and anti-Assange. Therefore, Alex Gibney's documentary is not rid of bias, but is still extremely interesting and effective.

We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks is a detailed look at how the concept of Wikileaks was formed by it's founder, Julian Assange and how it came to be the focus of international controversy by being the facilitator of the biggest security breach in US history. Through interviews with ex- Wikileaks employees and detailed biographies of all the major people involved in the scandals surrounding Wikileaks, the truth is learnt about the charismatic Assange and the ongoing effects of Wikileaks.

This documentary, which had it's world premiere at this year's Sundance Film Festival and Australian premiere at the Sydney Film Festival, is nothing short of entertaining. There is so much drama surrounding Wikileaks that at times it can feel as though you are watching a narrative feature film rather than a documentary. It can be extremely emotional and heartfelt, especially when looking at the result of Bradley Manning being the whistle-blower on the operations of the US military and the final interview scene with Adrian Lamo.

Throughout most of the film, it is clear that it is pro-Wikileaks. It does seem as though it is pro-Assange for a time as well, but then it suddenly switches. All the dirt suddenly comes out on Assange from the mouths of those who have personally known him and the conclusion of the film makes him out to be the exact opposite of what Wikileaks stands for. Whether this has come to past as being true or not, the film suddenly starts on the path of being extremely one-sided. Especially when it is mentioned that Assange set a price to give an interview for the film and Gibney did not approve of this. After being asked for that amount of money, it is obvious Gibney isn't a big fan of Assange, which is understandable in many ways. However, the bias does bring down the credibility of the film.

We Steal Secrets can almost be quite anti-USA at times as well when it comes to the case of Bradley Manning. Some of the things the interviewees say could be taken quite harshly by many Americans.

Gibney has used other techniques besides the information he has to ensure that We Steal Secrets is as entertaining as it can be. There is the use of loud music, such as that of Midnight Oil and Lady Gaga to increase the excitement and tension of the film as well as an original score by Will Bates which helps add to the emotion of the moment. The visual technique of using the electric blue typing against a black ground is also effective and heightens awareness of how important these electronic messages are to the story.

One thing is for certain with We Steal Secrets is that it certainly makes you think. It challenges you to think further about what you have been informed about and decide whether you think what happened as a result of Wikileaks uncovering the secrets of the US military was handled in the right way or not. The film encourages you to believe that it wasn't, but it still doesn't stop you pondering over the question of morals and the role and treatment of whistle-blowers in society.

We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks is an extremely interesting documentary and leaves you feeling like you are an expert on the subject, which is what a good documentary should do. However, it is still guilty of the crime of pushing you towards a certain viewpoint through it's bias ways.


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