Lowdowners I need to confess something. I’m ashamed to admit it but whilst the whole WikiLeaks affair was going on I didn’t pay any attention to it. I know. Shame on me. Yeah I knew the name Julian Assange, I knew what his philosophy was regarding secret information and I knew he was a Melburnian. But me being me simply thought Wikileaks was an adjunct to Wikipedia and I dismissed it almost instantly. (‘For Shame’ I hear you cry!) Having said all that it did mean that I walked into WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS with a completely clean slate – no expectation, no prior knowledge of any depth, just a willingness to be educated.
Alex Gibney (Taxi To The Darkside, Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room) has fashioned a documentary which is as polished and exploratory as it is thrilling. His lucid narrative structure, armed to the hilt with anecdotal and archival evidence, makes for one of the best documentaries I’ve seen in years. This documentary isn’t just about Julian Assange and his rise from anarchic hacker to freedom of information advocate , it’s also about the impact WikiLeaks had on its key players, the media and the global village.
There is little doubt that Assange enjoyed the celebrity status his website delivered. There is no doubt that the documentation WikiLeaks revealed irrevocably changed the way big corporation and government communicate. What Gibney and his team present to you is that this was more than just one man involved, there were players across the globe and the fallout of their actions needs to be shown.
From the global underground support of WikiLeaks, the governmental condemnation of Assange, the rise of the Hacktivists, the paranoia of a man in the centre of the storm to the collateral damage caused by bruised egos – WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS is one of the best paranoid thrillers in recent memory.
The whole philosophy of freedom of information is a noble one but in reality it exists in a world filled with grey areas. A man who professes that all information belongs in the public domain but then remains silent or evasive when allegations arise about him. Governments who profess to be doing right by their citizens and the global community but yet hide damning evidence to the contrary. Is our truth defined by global hypocrisy? And what are we to make of the ‘revolutionaries’ when they themselves aren’t being entirely honest? Who stands to gain/lose from such relinquishes? These are the sorts of questions that WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS poses.
Alex Gibney has delivered an engrossing, provocative and disciplined documentary. It’s one that anyone with an interest of privacy, online security and freedom speech should see. It is a cracking, informative and thrilling piece of cinema and shouldn’t be missed.
Best of all – I walked out of it with more questions than when I went in and to me that is the best indicator that you’ve just watched something a cut above. Put this high on your list of must sees.
WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS releases in AUSTRALIA on JUNE 12, 2013 through UNIVERSAL PICTURES