The Fifth Estate (film)

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Courage is contagious.


The Fifth Estate is a 2013 biographical thriller film about the news-leaking website WikiLeaks.  The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as its editor-in-chief and founder Julian Assange, and Daniel Brühl as its former spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg.  The film's name is a term used to describe the people who operate in the manner of journalists outside the normal constraints imposed on the mainstream media.

Screenplay by Josh Singer, based on Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website (2011) by Daniel Domscheit-Berg and WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy (2011) by British journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding; directed by Bill Condon.
How Wiki Leaks uncovers the secrets of the World (taglines)

Julian Assange[edit]

  • These are revelations which pierce the veil of secrecy surrounding this war, hiding a more-complete portrait of events we thought we understood, but we may not have known at all.
    • 0:05:40–0:05:49.
  • If we can find one moral man, one whistleblower, someone willing to expose all these secrets, that man could topple the most repressive of régimes.
    • 0:10:35–0:10:52.
  • And if the whistleblower's identity is secret, then he has nothing to fear.
    • 0:11:58–0:12:04.
  • A government, destroyed by tyranny, rebuilt under a glass dome so the whole world could look in: there's an ideal to aspire to.

Just look at it, Daniel!  Risen from the ashes, a whole city, once ruled by fascists, now overrun by artists, by anarchists, and crows and snowstorms, and transparency.

    • 0:13:42–0:14:07.
  • Courage is contagious.
    • First spoken out loud 0:22:57–0:22:58.  (This line is also spoken at other times throughout the film.  It makes its first appearance, however, on a WikiLeaks flyer at 0:09:22.)
  • Who ever thought that we'd need extra servers to fight censorship attacks from the "bastion of free speech"?
  • It takes two things to change the world, and you'd be surprised how many people have good ideas, but—commitment? true commitment?—that's the hard one.  It requires sacrifice.
    • 0:47:35–0:47:49.  (This line is partially repeated in voice-over from 1:51:43 to 1:51:55.)
  • The video shows the brutal slaughter of two Reuters reporters.  Here, we have firsthand evidence of the barbarity of war.  A man, going to drop his children at school, sees another man bleeding to death on the pavement, stops to aid this civilian, and, in the process, is killed, and his vehicle turned one-hundred and eighty degrees by the sheer force of the Apache helicopter's thirty-millimetre bullets ripping into the side of the vehicle, miraculously not killing the two children inside.
  • Revolution is the struggle between the past and the future, and the future has just begun.
    • 1:52:11–1:52:37.
  • There is no proof that anyone came to any harm as a result of the full disclosure of the unredacted documents published on the WikiLeaks website.  Not one shred of evidence.
    • 2:00:23–2:01:35.
  • As long as you keep searching, you are dangerous to them.
    • 2:02:35–2:02:38.

Dialogue[edit]

And, now, we find ourselves in the same position, a new information revolution, infinitely more powerful than the last—a Fifth Estate.
Nick Davies:  You know, there was a time when British papers couldn't report on parliamentary debate.  But, then a few very brave men started printing pamphlets and leaking these debates.  And, uh, well, I believe the men were hanged.  But the public saw these pamphlets and demanded access, and the modern Fourth Estate was born, from the passion, and the vision, of these few brave souls.
Daniel Berg:  Who were hanged.
Nick Davies:  Who were hanged.

And, now, we find ourselves in the same position, a new information revolution, infinitely more powerful than the last—a Fifth Estate—seemingly hellbent on destroying its predecessors, all the old models dying faster than the new can replace them.  Which is why we need~more~brave~souls.  You, and Julian, have charted a course through all this chaos, pointed at the truth; and, yes, the tyrants of this world should beware, knowing that, now, we have the power to demand the information that,one day soon, will wash them all away.

  • 1:57:41–1:59:52.

Taglines[edit]

  • You can't expose the world's secrets without exposing yourself.
  • How Wiki Leaks uncovers the secrets of the World

Quotes about the film[edit]

  • For a movie about a larger-than-life personality who shook up the world with his brazenness—and since has had to seek political asylum because of it—"The Fifth Estate" feels unfortunately small and safe.

Director Bill Condon tells the story of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a way that seems insular and familiar.  It is a tried-and-true tale of rise and fall—of a self-made political and cultural phenomenon whose ambitions are tidily explained away through pop psychology.

  • "The Fifth Estate" seems more interested in contributing to a cult of personality, rather than cultivating a serious debate.
    • Ibid.
  • Assange has gone to great lengths to discredit the movie.  Considering that its portrayal of him is less than flattering, that's not surprising.  The story closely follows the source material but there are open questions about the factual accuracy of those books.  Condon uses a late scene in the movie to address Assange's criticisms by having the character, as played by Cumberbatch, complain about "the upcoming Wikileaks movie."  It's a curious moment that seems to have been incorporated as a concession.  It's the first time I can recall (at least in a serious-minded film) a character openly referring to the movie in which he is appearing.  Cinematic recursion.
  • Bill Condon's movie, which badly wants—and fails—to ape the suave approach of "The Social Network," streams with data and leaps from one city to the next, as the Times and other newspapers follow the lead of WikiLeaks.  Whether you view Assange as a freedom fighter or as a sinister paranoiac is beside the point; however balanced the script, and for all the dexterity of Cumberbatch, the look of the film is entirely under his spell, and the result is as nervy and as excitable as the trade that it depicts.

Cast[edit]

External links[edit]

Wikipedia
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