Words by Fatema Sitabkhan
We at Eventalaide were fortunate enough to be invited to the special preview
screening of this month’s anticipated movie Snowden, starring Joseph-Gordon Levitt
and Shailene Woodley, among many other recognizable faces. Self-proclaimed
political filmmaker Oliver Stone has put together a story that gives us an insight into
a truly celebrated/hated/controversial individual who became a public figure in
Snowden is a chilling take on an interesting’s man life and how he gained the
reputation of being a “whistle-blower”, unravelling the secrets of the operations run
by the National Security Agency (NSA). While the biopic may not have shown
enough of the actual “hacking” process that led to Snowden becoming a public figure
for all the wrong reasons, we at Eventalaide still found this movie to be a fairly
decent demonstration of what exactly made Snowden the man he is today and how
his refugee status has been the centre of controversy, with regards to the American
There may be a great number of reviews out there complaining about the lack of
specificity, when it comes to Snowden’s status as a CIA agent and then an NSA agent,
followed by the acquisition of the refugee status, but personally, I feel that this
movie has done a great job at portraying how Snowden stood up for who/what he
believed in and how he has come to terms with the fact that he is a wanted man by
the American authorities.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance is admirable, as this is one of the very few
occasions where JGL has presented a raw and real enactment of a man’s life whose
story has captivated the world since he came into the spotlight. The movie is quick
in glazing over some important milestones in Snowden’s life (particularly in the last
couple of scenes), but at the same time, it provides us with a brief yet
comprehensive outline of how Snowden went from working for the NSA to
becoming a fugitive at large.
As one who heavily relies on the World of Internet to do almost everything – pay
bills, plan trips, gather information for an assignment, play games, and much, much
more – this movie made me rethink my behaviour just by switching on my
electronic device(s). Additionally, it has also re-ignited my childhood dream of
solving a Rubik’s Cube!
Snowden showcases how the things we take things for granted can end up either
making or breaking the dynamic of our lifestyle ten-fold. There are so many secrets
that have only been rumoured to be actions of the government, but Snowden may
have just proven some of them to be majorly legitimate.
While Snowden is predominantly based on factual events, it is soothing to see how
the movie projects a beautiful balance between the personal aspects of Snowden’s
lifestyle prior to, during, and after the NSA chapter and how that, in turn, affected
the way his professional career panned out. It’s a thought-provoking story that
imbibes in itself a number of characteristics. With a star-studded cast – including
Nicholas Cage and Zachary Quinto, the movie presents with a cheeky hint of
curiosity with the end of every scene. Snowden is an accurate representation of how
the face of this movie had his life turned upside down, simply for standing by his
principles and releasing classified information to the public for their own benefit.
The final scene of this movie touched me especially, as we got a glimpse of the man
himself. Hearing the man speak, I felt enthralled by his personality and could tell
that there was a feeling of remorse, but also of pride, in terms of doing something
for his county. There was a haunting connection established between JGL’s portrayal
of Edward Snowden and the man himself. This movie is the epitome of what a
minimalistic biopic is, but we can also sense the emotional chords within us being
strung in a deeply moving manner.
Of course, you are welcome to openly interpret this movie (and the man in focus) to
your liking – after all, controversies exist for a reason. Whether you see Snowden as
a hero, a patriot, or a traitor, a coward, this movie will stimulate your perspectives
on the issue and make you question everything you think you know about the
government and the way we are viewed in this world.