Updated: Mar 17
Because it matters even today, and the film is succinctly telling us that.
Edward Snowden took a bunch of NSA data from its centre in Hawaii and gave it away to some journalists showing how NSA collects data on every individual on earth, whether he wants it or not.
He showed how the surveillance software covers all people from all walks of life across every nation. How NSA can manipulate that data to get governments of various countries to do their bidding or get overturned. He showed how data could end every individual's privacy on earth, from his cellphone or his lowly laptop.
Since this is an old movie, I shall not talk about acting, technical prowess, or music. Let's say that the standard is uniformly high as it's an Oliver Stone film.
Let's just burrow into what the film provided us apart from just telling us about Snowden and what he stood for.
Technology moved from being an enabler to a buddy to now a need in our lives. Most of us don't even know what goes on inside the world of technology and how compromised we could be. In fact, how compromised we already are. As shown, Facebook data has been used to manipulate and leverage the opinion and minds of people quite successfully in many countries to bring in supremacist regimes. Draconian laws are being enacted by these regimes that will either enable them to rule for longer terms or counter the democratic republics across the world.
Who enabled these, and for what reason?
Obviously, there are people who have decided to mould opinion this way. And the internet enabled it. But as for knowing who precisely to tap to get things done, well, someone had the data.
This is where the NSA and its work comes into sharp focus. And knowing the American governments to date, they wouldn't have stopped getting this data.
Snowden tried undoing this. Only the annals of intelligence history long afterward can say if he was successful. We cannot say that and not so early.
The film gives us the blow by blow account of how Snowden did it, despite all odds. Essentially, he too was a hacker but who went rogue to show the right direction to his geek community.
Something is happening today, and you could call that a result of the world knowing more about Snowden and his ilk. College students do not want to work in the big technology companies anymore, and neither do they want to work for the NSA or CIA. They are wary of someone using their tech for nefarious designs. All sanctioned under the garb of business or nation.
Something that's rampantly happening in India after the Aadhaar card has been instituted for every citizen.
Oliver Stone has the mind of a crusader, and it shows. The colours, the gripping feel, and the time he gives to all his actors to come alive in every scene so that the story is better told. Because it was only a few men against the might of nations. These stories need to be told that well.
- Indraneel Majumdar
Film - Snowden
Showing on Netflix
Stars - ****