We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks
Directed by Alex Gibney
Julian Assange. Bradley Manning. Collateral murder. Cablegate. WikiLeaks. These people and terms have exploded into public consciousness by fundamentally changing the way democratic societies deal with privacy, secrecy, and the right to information, perhaps for generations to come. We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks is an extensive examination of all things related to WikiLeaks and the larger global debate over access to information.
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★★★★ review by Seb on Letterboxd
“In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
- George Orwell
We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, the latest work from acclaimed documentarian Alex Gibney, explores the creation of WikiLeaks – the world changing website that facilitated the biggest security breach in U.S history.
Throughout this documentary, we’re provided with a dual character study: one of Julian Assange, the mysterious mastermind behind WikiLeaks, the other of Pvt. Bradley Manning, the whistle blower who leaked a surplus of secrets to WikiLeaks in a time of personal crisis. Gibney has gone to the trouble here of detailing the specifics, as well as the broader strokes of an issue that continues to consume the U.S, and to a lesser extent, the rest of us.
Although some of it feels familiar, Gibney illuminates the murkier areas of the subject, making for an eye-opening, deeply fascinating exploration of a complex issue. The characters of Assange and Manning make for a gripping double bill. Both are socially and politically divisive for their actions, but are often positioned differently when their heroism is brought into question.
‘Lights on, rats out’, a phrase used by Assange, is an apt reading of their motivations: relieving their domains, no matter how expansive or intimate, of the corrupted clutter that obscures our worldview. Through his script, Gibney delicately represents both characters, understanding, without judgement, the results of their actions.
Intelligent but accessible, We Steal Secrets is a probing and deeply compelling documentary that examines the familiar and unfamiliar details of WikiLeaks, as well as the characters of Assange and Manning, with a confident, even-handed assurance.
★★★★ review by Filmspotting on Letterboxd
"I think really we have to say that something has started, and it's not going to be about WikiLeaks. It's going to be about transparency and accountability, and keeping power in check, keeping governments responsible."
Yeah, sure... but how is this documentary relevant?
★★★★½ review by Matt on Letterboxd
The definitive look at WikiLeaks and the story behind it. I was engulfed the whole way through this documentary and loved how it played out like a thriller. I only knew some basic stuff about Wikileaks before watching so it was nice to get the full details. The film is definitely a precursor to Citizenfour, but what most captivated me was the sympathetic portrayal of Bradley Manning, who is jailed and tortured and the real hero, while Assange hides and is more of a paranoid loon than genius and martyr he is made out to be.
★★★★ review by Ramses Flores on Letterboxd
Solid documentary that plays out like a top notch globe trotting cyber thriller. Fascinating stuff with some great direction by Gibney.
★★★½ review by Sue Madré on Letterboxd
An important and powerful story told in a fairly impartial way, We Steal Secrets shows how we let our fears and insecurities affect how we see the world. It shows the power of terror and ignorance to drive well-intended people (on all sides) to unfortunate results. And it shows the sometimes criminal lengths governments will go to to protect themselves from accountability.
The story is an education in democratic issues, and as lil' Tommy Jefferson said a long long time ago, "the cornerstone of democracy rests on the foundation of an educated electorate."
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