Protecting or peeping? “Snowden” asks

Lexi Ganas

Staff Writer

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Edward Snowden. (Photo courtesy of screenrant.com)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Edward Snowden. (Photo courtesy of screenrant.com)

In 2013, former CIA agent Edward Snowden was revealed to be the source of leaked government files. Director Oliver Stone’s newest film “Snowden” is based on events surrounding this indent.

“Snowden” hit theaters on September 16th of this year and so far has brought in approximately 17 million dollars worldwide. The film’s source material is based on two books, “The Snowden Files” by Luke Harding and “Time of the Octopus” by Anatoly Kucherena.

Stone’s film follows Edward Snowden’s life as he leaks private government information to the public via the British news agency, The Guardian. Some allege that Edward Snowden had good intentions in trying to inform the people with these leaks, while others allege that his aim was in trying to destabilize and overthrow the American government.

Stone met with Snowden in January of 2014 to secure his blessing and cooperation prior to filming. Snowden was apprehensive about his life being put onto the big screen, but finally relented after several more meetings.

The film itself focuses on some of the events that led Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to leak the official, incendiary government documents in question. Snowden is also depicted during his time as a U.S. Army recruit as well as his rise through the ranks of the CIA.

Snowden becomes very upset when his co-workers reveal to him that they posses surveillance videos of ordinary citizens. He reaches a breaking point, however, when he sees a woman undress in one of their many surveillance files. He feels the content is illicit– as though National Security Agents are using hidden surveillance cameras to titillate themselves. Later, he becomes extremely disgusted when a source at the NSA informs him that the agency has been spying on his girlfriend, Lindsay (Shailene Woodley).

The narrative of “Snowden” depicts a lot of the titular character’s background, alongside events that occurred after the NSA discovers that he has leaked classified government information to the public. Joseph Gordan-Levitt plays this role of a computer-geek perfectly.

In June of 2013 when The Guardian first published articles based on some of Snowden’s files, people were a only a little concerned about their privacy being breached, but Stone’s film delves deeper, putting everything on display– incidents like the American government spying on the most intimate moments of its citizens such as getting dressed and undressed.

The initial leaks by Snowden and the following revelations in the news polarized people on the issue. The position of this film seems to be pro-Snowden, praising him after informing the public of the NSA’s spying, positioning him as a victim of surveillance, and not a traitor his country.

“Snowden” is an excellent film that keeps audience members on the edge of their seat for the duration.

Rating: B+

Running time: 134
Rated: R
Now playing in theaters