Assange has expressed issues with both films
Cinematic adaptations of the WikiLeaks story were only a matter of time, but for those deeply intrigued by the events that surrounded the website and its whistleblowing founder, to have two in close proximity gives a great opportunity to gain insight. Julian Assange, as you’d imagine, has taken issue with both.
A still from The Fifth Estate, directed by Bill Condon
The Fifth Estate is a dramatized version of events, documenting the tumultuous journey of not only the website, but the relationship between Julian Assange and Daniel Domscheit-Berg – the man whose book the film is based on. We Steal Secrets is a fact-based documentary, directed by the notorious film maler Alex Gibeny, whose previous work includes Enron, the hard-hitting movie that took white collar criminals to task.
The slick trailer for The Fifth Estate, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange, depicts a taught thriller, complete with an unlikely hero and the quest for truth against all odds. What it doesn’t include is Bradley Manning, the sexual assault allegations the recent activity at the Ecuadorian embassy. Despite those omissions - two of which aren’t favorable to Assange’s character while draws attention from him as the protagonist in the WikiLeaks story - the website’s founder has denounced the film for opening with scenes that depict a wartime scenario. “How does this have anything to do with us?” he said. “It is a lie upon lie. The movie is a massive propaganda attack on WikiLeaks and the character of my staff.”
Daniel Bruhl plays Daniel Domscheit-Berg
There was controversy surrounding Assange with the Gibney documentary too, which opened recently in the U.K, as he reportedly demanded $1m for an interview. His absence from the film is felt, but We Steal Secrets is already being lauded as one of the most important documentaries of a generation. Both of these films unfold like a traditional American thriller – you half expect Jason Bourne to pop up somewhere and break a neck or two – which says something about the remarkable nature of the WikiLeaks story; a tale which is only just getting told.