‘Snowden’ Opens Political Debate

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Joseph Gordon Levitt and Shailene Woodley star in the politically charged biopic “Snowden,” which retells the patriotism of former NSA intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. Released on Sept. 16, the film is presented as a retrospective narration of Snowden’s understanding of, and need for, exposing the NSA’s surveillance of United States citizens in the aftermath of 9/11.

The film opens with Snowden (Levitt) making contact with journalists before he released his information in 2013. It then flashes back to show him attempting to be a soldier in the army.

After being discharged for being unable to uphold the physical standards, Snowden is told that there are other ways to serve the United States. From that moment, Snowden decides to use his skills with computers to help and he begins working for the CIA and National Security Agency (NSA).

The film paints Snowden in a very human way, especially with regards to his relationship with Lindsey Mills (Woodley). The comedy of the two meeting on an internet chat site is combated by the struggles of keeping a relationship together. Just like in life, the film has more romance and heartbreak than one would suspect. The writers placed particular interest on the strain that a high-risk national security job would be on average people.

However, Snowden and Mills worked to keep their relationship together, and the audience is rooting for the couple by the end.

The cinematography of the film is very unique and striking thanks to director Oliver Stone. The film uses several primary sources to set the scene for the U.S. environment after 9/11.

A clip of the Twin Towers falling, presidential speeches and news reports are sprinkled throughout the film; often the characters are watching the news or talking about a world leader. This is a unique aspect that gives the film a documentary feeling but, with all of the camera work, viewers can tell that this film is a box office hit.

Stone also shows the life of a person with epilepsy through his camera work. While living in Hawaii, Snowden had his first seizure. At first, the viewers are just as confused as Snowden when the world begins to go out of focus. The sensory overload of flashing lights, color spots and the absence of sound portrays something tragic in a powerful way. The film generates a sense of empathy for Snowden’s condition.

The film aims to show Snowden’s life in way that does not turn the audience against him. The driving force of the film, and Snowden’s fame, is visible in the line, “You don’t have to agree with your politicians to be a patriot.” The film completely exposes the inner workings of the intelligence agencies as they were during this time and the boundaries the national government was crossing in the name of national security.

The concept of rightness is constantly judged and balanced within the context of government and Snowden’s experience. The split time, with flashbacks in the past and the days leading up to Snowden’s public announcements, allows for the audience to judge Snowden’s actions. The idea of what is right and what is legal is constantly debated by Snowden and the audience is caught debating, too.

The film is playing the Cinemark Towne Centre and it is rated R for language and some nudity.

photo courtesy of film-arcade.net

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