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The wizard with a sickly body: Oliver Stone's biopic of one of the most subversive minds on earth does not address the political conjecture and notions of patriotism, instead painting a highly romanticised picture of a splendid man with a frail health

Oliver Stone’s Snowden sounds very promising. Will this be the biopic of the year? Will it solve the mystery behind the most famous computer wizard in the world? How could someone betray the FBI? Surely this film is a great opportunity to enter a very subversive mind. Sadly the film is nothing but a fantastic concoction probably with little connection to the real Snowden.

Stone told DMovies: “Snowden seemed transparent to me. I don’t see any flaws with him. The flaw he had is that he was too frail to work for the Army. Don’t make up flaws for a man that he doesn’t have”. So maybe Snowden betrayed the filmmaker, too. The entire movie is based solely on his testimonies. Mr. Stone only talked to one former FBI employee about the classified leaked NSA documents and it is not in the movie. Mr. Stone flew to Putin’s Russia nine times in order to interview Snowden and his wife Lindsay Mills.

Snowden is a very dangerous movie because it shifts your attention away from politics purely into the human side of Snowden. Indeed, the focus of the movie is his relation with his girlfriend and his struggle against epilepsy. Snowden is a frail and sickly character in this picture. And that’s a very political statement in itself.

There are some gaps between 2004 – when he was in the Army and was discharged after he broke his legs in an accident – and 2013 – when he leaked secret information to American journalist Glenn Greenwald, who back then worked for the British newspaper The Guardian. Throughout his life, Snowden chose to be part of institutions that rule over one’s privacy and demand unyielding loyalty. Snowden learnt not to trust anyone.

Stone’s biopic is an emotional drama that sustains Snowden’s points-of-view devoid of any political criticism. Snowden dictates the tone of the narrative. It is easier to relate to the loving relationship between Snowden and his wife than to the computer nerd. A nerd is often selfish, greedy, ambitious, egocentric and antisocial.

Snowden was part of BFI London Film Festival in October, and its theatrical release in the UK will happen on Friday, December 9th.

Watch the trailer below:

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By Maysa Monção - 14-10-2016

Maysa Monção is a Brazilian writer, teacher, translator, editor and art performer who currently lives in London. She has a Masters Degree in Film Studies from Tor Vergata University in Rome, Italy, ...

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