Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Fifth Estate (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

“The Fifth Estate”
A Real-Life thriller

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

The so-called three estates are the clergy, the nobility, and commoners. Later, Edmund Burke added the term fourth estate to refer to the press. A fifth estate is considered to be a group operating outside of society’s normal groupings.

For that reason, WikiLeaks has been described as a fifth estate.
The new film titled “The Fifth Estate” -- now playing at the Tropic Cinema -- is in fact a thriller based on the real-life turmoil surrounding Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks.

Directed by Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls,” “Kinsey”), the film tells the story how activist Julian Assange (played by Benedict Cumberbatch of “Star Trek Into Darkness”) and journalist Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl of “Rush”) came together to found a tell-all website called WikiLeaks.

Starting off, WikiLeaks exposed offshore crime in the Cayman Islands, secrets of Scientology, and Sarah Palin’s email.

However, the situation gets dangerous when WikiLeaks starts releasing classified documents provided by US Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning. Assange and Berg have a falling out over protecting sources. That leads to a coup, with Berg and his team blocking Assange's access to the WikiLeaks server.

And, as we know from newspaper headlines, the real-life Julian Assange is currently holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, evading charges of sexual assault that he calls a ruse to turn him over to the Americans. After all, the US government has reason to exterminate him.

Assange denounces this film, because it’s partially based on a book by his nemesis Daniel Berg. He calls it a “serious propaganda attack on WikiLeaks and the integrity of its staff.”

Benedict Cumberbatch actually met with Assange while researching his part in the film. The actor appears to be somewhat sympathetic. “No matter how you cut it,” says Cumberbatch, “he’s done us a massive service, to wake us up to the zombielike way we absorb our news.”

Maybe, maybe not. The film’s working title was “The Man Who Sold the World.”

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