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I'm a retiree living in Mexico who doesn't read newspapers, internet news or watch television. I'm as unbiased as you can get. I was stunned by the venom of many reviewers, most of whom are pro Assange. I kept reading reviews, waiting for someone to state what I considered the obvious point of the movie makers. I didn't see it, so here is my opinion of what the movie is about.
People are weak. We easily lose sight of our original goals when we obtain power. Through power, we become what we originally detested. It's inherent in human nature, and cannot be avoided.
The United States struggles worldwide. Each public servant begins with ideals. Gradually, though the accumulation of power, they face the same decisions as their predecessors. Often, they make the same mistakes. Thus, the Obama of today becomes what the pre-presidential Obama would have considered a war criminal. Ironically, WikiLeaks began the same; idealistically. Then they, particularly Julian Assange, succumbed to the same faults in human nature as their government antagonists. The documentary is the story of good people doing bad things, including Assange. It is also the story of inevitable consequences. If you make a credible challenge to the United States government, don't expect the enemies you've made to say "thank you, you're right, nice job." When a small power declares war on a larger power, don't expect fair play. Expect annihilation.
In war amongst nations, strange allies are created. Assange living in the Ecuadorian embassy? If you believe, as I do, that you can tell the character of a person (or nation) by their friends, what does this say about Assange? One thread of the movie is the character development of this unusual and charismatic man, from idealist to Rock Star Rebel screwing attractive women without thoughts of consequence to paranoid recluse turning on his own friends and ideals to fugitive living under the protection of a corrupt government that is the antithesis of every ideal of freedom he began with. The documentary shows clearly that Assange is just a human being misusing immense power, no different that the governments he first turned on. The movie would have been better if he had been interviewed, but succeeds in making it's point without it. Assange, the man who supposedly puts the dissemination of information ahead of all other considerations, won't do the interview without being paid huge sums of cash. He will also accept in payment secrets damaging to his enemies. He ends up being what he originally hated. Like all great main characters in all good stories, he changes from who he was at the beginning. Through the power of media, he becomes a digital Dorian Gray, an ugly reflection of what once was a beautiful, courageous person.
The documentary carefully gives credit to the original ideal of WikiLeaks, and shows the inevitable path of every idealistic rebel in history (except the American Founding Fathers, especially George Washington) who gains power then becomes what he hated...a corrupt person who puts the protection of acquired power ahead of all other goals.
The movie ends with an image of earth viewed from space, and questions of how we can save ourselves from this vicious cycle of idealism becoming corrupted with power. Every who views this movie with a political axe to grind gets disappointed. There are no heroes or villains in this movie. The documentary is an indictment of human nature, a problem they evoke clearly and with great skill. It's also a problem they don't attempt to solve, except by initiating a dialog.
To those wanted this movie to reflect their own political, moral or legal views, try setting aside your agenda and watching it again. This is a remarkably well made movie with balanced reporting. Their only agenda is telling the truth.
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