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Director Michael Cordon’s controversial film of the year The Fifth Estate opened at cinemas at the weekend based on the book by Domscheit-Berg. While basis of the story is based on true events of corruption, conspiracies, and until Edward Snowdon, the biggest leak of American top secret documents.
The films begins in 2007 with Julian Assange played by actor Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes, Star Trek) an activist and programmer who meets Domscheit-Berg an IT specialist, Daniel Brühl (Glorious Bastards, Rush) at the Chaos Computer Annual Conference, in Berlin. While giving a presentation at the Conference Berg takes an interest in him, when he explains the obstacles faced with information being made available in the public domain. Not long after they meet Assange confides in Berg that his father left him at a young age, his mother joined a cult and married the leader. Berg befriends the man whom he views as a visionary and decides to collaborate on his new website Wikileaks. A website he foundered with a view of spying on governments, tyrannical regimes and corrupt banks. As Berg joins in Assange’s moral crusade, it quickly affects his work including his personal relationships, while building upon the growing success of exposing oppressive regimes and atrocities around the world.
British newspaper journalists have mixed views over the sudden arrival of Wikileaks; Mick Davies a journalist takes a liking to these two internet freedom fighters. As they both continue promoting Wikileaks across the internet and building up a world wide following in the process. Assange’s complex personality surfaces as he becomes increasingly paranoid that he is now being spied upon.
Berg begins to question Assange’s true motives and whether Wikileaks is still a force for good in the world. Whistleblowers begin uploading damaging video footage of conflicts in Iraq and injustices around the world. The American government becomes increasing frustrated and embarrassed at the website’s revelations.
Bradley Manning a solder in the US army steps forward with a cd of ninety one thousand classified files belonging to the American government. Berg voices his concern by verifying Manning’s source of information and damning evidence. Assange has hands on the biggest leak in American history, and wants it uploaded to Wikileaks. He agrees to co-operate with British newspapers to publish the files and remove the names of covert sources. Bitter words are exchanged between Berg and Assange over the disclosure of the files resulting in Berg’s suspension from Wikileaks.
Cumberbatch gives a convincing performance as the founder of the Wikileaks website. Actor David Thewlis is outstanding as Mick Davies a Guardian journalist who is a supporter of Wikileaks.
The Fifth Estate is very good film, covering the four years of Wikleaks rise and eventual downfall told through Berg. Only vague references are mentioned regarding Assange’s childhood, allegation of sexual assault, and to this day living in the Educator embassy in London. The ending scene leaves you thinking that the sequel might not be that far off!
THE FIFTH ESTATE Official Trailer