The first trailer for the much-anticipated Hollywood movie on WikiLeaks, The Fifth Estate, has been unveiled. It shows the WikiLeaks organization going from releasing the “Collateral Murder” video of an Apache helicopter attack that killed two Reuters journalists in Baghdad to releasing military documents on the Afghanistan war to publishing cables that helped fuel uprisings in the Middle East to then-lead member of the organization, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, ultimately growing frustrated with WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange and being forced to part ways.
The preview shows Assange giving speech at a conference in Reykjavik, Iceland. Accompanied by Domscheit-Berg, he tells the audience, “If we could find one moral man, one whistleblower, someone willing to expose those secrets, that man could topple the most powerful and most repressive of regimes.”
Just before this, a glimpse inside the government’s response to WikiLeaks is shown. Tension is brewing over the fact that 12 million people have seen “Collateral Murder.” Anthony Mackie, who plays some government official, asks another official played by Laura Linney if the organization has an agenda. Linney replies, “Truth, justice, the American way.”
From the preview, it indicates there are scenes featuring the organization’s leaks on a billion dollar bank in Iceland. There also are scenes with characters repeating government talking points. A general warns that the military reports from Afghanistan have the names of hundreds of informants and “there are lives at risk.”
Another government official in the movie, who at first glance seems like a character inspired by former State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley states, “I need names of sources who could be harmed if these cables are put out.” He also later can be heard in the trailer saying Assange is “not a journalist. He’s a threat to national security.”
But the preview concludes with statements that appear to capture the essence of what makes an organization like WikiLeaks valuable to society. An elderly woman says, “If we had someone like you, the Berlin Wall would have come down years before.” And the clip ends with Assange speaking to the camera saying, “If you want the truth, you should seek it out for yourself. That’s what they’re afraid of: you.”
Some first thoughts are this movie is already something Assange is leery of seeing open in the United States. The source material for the film is Domscheit-Berg’s book, “Inside WikiLeaks,” which helped some staff writers at newspapers write gossip columns about the personality issues he had with Assange and the battle that created tension in the organization. It unfortunately was not well-received.
A glance at Amazon leads one to find the following reviews: “Some insight into WikiLeaks, but unfortunately sappy, trite and then vindictive,” “raising the bar for banal opportunism,” “A book on Assange’s quirks, not WikiLeaks.”
The filmmakers behind this movie also referenced David Leigh and Luke Harding of The Guardian‘s book, “WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy.”
One of the more “helpful reviews” on Amazon by a reader who admits to being “disinterested but not dispassionate” about the WikiLeaks drama, suggests, “What one notices immediately is the general tone of these writings, not only devoid of any sympathy for the subject but frankly billious. Leaving you with an unpleasant taste in your mouth, this tone makes you slightly suspicious as for the authors’ motivations and impartiality.” And another review reads, “I was greatly disappointed with this book. I was hoping to learn more about Assange rather than patently-slanted gossip.” [cont’d]