- 1 hr 54 min
Citizenfour is a gripping documentary, produced and directed by Laura Poitras, that brings to light the infamous mass surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States. The titular subject of the film, Edward Snowden, was a former NSA contractor who exposed the classified documents revealing the extent of the NSA's spying programs. The film chronicles Snowden's journey from anonymity to government fugitive, as well as the fight for privacy and individual rights.
The documentary begins with Poitras receiving encrypted emails from an unnamed source that eventually becomes Snowden. Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, a journalist from The Guardian, travel to Hong Kong to meet with Snowden in his hotel room. Snowden reveals classified documents to the duo, which they subsequently publish, making the worldwide news.
The film focuses on Snowden's motivation to reveal confidential information and the ramifications of his actions. Through extensive interviews with Snowden, Poitras explores his reasons for exposing the NSA and the risks involved. Snowden makes it clear that his main motive was to raise public awareness about the intrusive surveillance programs of the government, which he deemed unconstitutional and a violation of human rights.
Snowden's decision to come forward is brave, and in some ways, selfless. Throughout the documentary, Snowden expresses his moral obligation to the country and the people. Besides detailing the intricacies of the leaked documents, the documentary focuses on Snowden's predicament after the leaks. Snowden knows he faces severe backlash from the government and intelligence agencies, and thus his decision to flee from Hong Kong to Moscow, where he remains to this day.
The film also features interviews with former NSA officials, like William Binney and Thomas Drake, who support Snowden's actions and validate his disclosures. They shed light on the NSA's indiscriminate collection of data, which is in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
The documentary is not only a critique of government surveillance, but it also highlights the role of media in today's digital era. The film showcases the power of journalism in shaping public opinion and uncovering government misconduct. Glenn Greenwald plays a critical role in the film, as he was responsible for publishing Snowden's documents, which ignited global conversations about privacy and national security.
The technical aspects of the documentary are also commendable. Poitras captures the paranoia and secrecy of Snowden's situation through vivid camera-work, sound design, and editing. The audience can feel the apprehension and tension in Snowden's hotel room in Hong Kong, where Poitras brings the viewers behind the scenes of some of the most significant news events of the decade.
Citizenfour remains a crucial documentary in the fight for privacy and individual rights. It offers insight into Snowden's personality and motivations, as well as highlighting the vast reach of intelligence agencies in modern society. The film is a must-watch for those who want to learn more about the world of government surveillance and the importance of challenging authority.
In conclusion, Citizenfour is a powerful documentary that exposes some of the most critical issues concerning privacy and individual rights. The documentary remains relevant, especially in the context of recent revelations about surveillance programs in Australia, the UK and other countries. With compelling interviews, excellent direction, and thrilling music, Citizenfour is a must-watch film that has influenced change in government practices and policies.
Citizenfour is a 2014 documentary with a runtime of 1 hour and 54 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 8.0 and a MetaScore of 88.