Snowden on the big screen

MOVE reviews “Citizenfour”

I used to have a friend who warned me about the NSA about once a day.

I laughed it off as an inside joke; he thought it was reality. I thought he was paranoid; he knew he was right.

If you only see one documentary in your entire life, see “Citizenfour.” Coming from one of two initial contacts Edward Snowden made with journalists before his (in)famous leaks, this is something you won’t see anywhere else.

The doc looks at the NSA leaks themselves to an extent, but focuses more on the players in the unfolding game.

We see Snowden as himself: an insanely intelligent, cocky smartass who views his life’s bleak outlook with a grave sense of patriotism you don’t often see in anyone, let alone a direct target of the American government.

Where contempt would lie, there’s integrity; where fear, there’s strength.

We see Snowden smile, even laugh, and not sparingly either.

Also in focus is Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian, the reporter who broke the leaks. We never see him afraid of what he’s about to do. Rather, he’s somber at times and astounded at others. He knows the implications of the information he’s receiving.

We see Snowden explain in his own words the extent to which our government is spying on everyone.

I’ll be the first to admit I was shocked at the NSA leaks initially, then let my feelings fade over time. I went on talking freely on social media, Googling things I probably shouldn’t and mentioning the NSA only jokingly.

My reaction was probably a lot like everyone else’s. I mean, even “Citizenfour” is so sci-fi it’s hard to believe.

Filmmaker Laura Poitras had to meet Snowden in an obscure hotel lobby in Hong Kong; she’d know who Snowden was only because he’d be playing with a rubix cube. She had a set script to follow to prove her identity. He had a scripted response.

The story that followed is straight out of Hollywood. Countless movies have been made following this sequence of events, but this time, it’s real. So how should we react?

My take? Go see the documentary. Get to know the “real” Snowden. Know what he knows and figure out what your reaction will be. It’s hard to judge the film itself because the material it covers is so much more important.

Personally, I think I should have listened to my friend’s crazy NSA hypothesis before the fact.

MOVE gives “Citizenfour” 5 out of 5 stars.

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