Citizenfour (2014)

citizenfour poster 2014 movie edward snowden
9.0 Overall Score

Scary, paranoia

You probably either agree with Snowden or you don't

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Citizenfour

Studio:  Praxis Films

Genre(s):  Documentary

Release Date(s):  October 10, 2014 (New York Film Festival)

MPAA Rating:  R

citizenfour edward snowden documentary

This is going to be a mess

When Laura Poitras receives a cryptic message from a person calling themselves “Citizenfour”, she finds herself drawn into a world of espionage and potential treason.  “Citizenfour” is a CIA operative named Edward Snowden that has decided to expose the widespread wiretapping of the NSA, and with Glenn Greenwald, Poitras is charged with revealing the story.  With the governments of the world hunting for him, Edward Snowden finds himself in hiding, but his revelations could change everything.

Directed by Laura Poitras, Citizenfour is a documentary about the wiretapping scandal.  The film originally premiered at the New York Film Festival and went on to win the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary.

citizenfour glenn greenwald edward snowden

Well…I got a story.

Snowden is a divisive figure.  Many would say that he shouldn’t have revealed government secrets in an act that could be considered treason while others see him as a hero who revealed to the public that privacy was being illegally threatened.  Citizenfour is obviously pro-Snowden, but it does allow room for debate.

The documentary is interesting in that it follows from the start of the investigation through Snowden’s asylum in Russia.  The viewers see it unveiled as it unveiled to the filmmakers and it doesn’t feel completely edited, retreaded, and forced like many documentaries.  It is a big subject to cover with a lot of angles (with angles that can’t legally be covered), but the movie does a solid job presenting the story.

The film really becomes about Snowden and if he is a patriot or an anti-patriot.  It is a rather rounded presentation of him as a person showing paranoia (rightful or not rightful) and there is some arrogance.  You could argue that it shouldn’t have been his decision and that some of the information could risk lives…but you could also argue that the information would never have gotten out if he didn’t.

citizenfour documentary edward snowden news coverage

It’s out there now…

A clip of Obama speaking of the programs reports that the they were being investigated…but I get the feeling that if a stink hadn’t been made by Snowden that nothing would have come of that investigation and that we wouldn’t know about it one way or another.  It is this that is scary and that is debatable.  Is a whistleblower protected in a situation like this?

Citizenfour is a documentary that is important and should be seen.  I don’t know that it will change the opinions of Snowden, but it does open the door for debate on what is privacy and what it means to citizens in addition to where the line between what is public knowledge and where safety can be drawn.  The documentary allows you to see how it unfolded and how it continues to unfold as the battle of public and private information continues.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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