The Fifth Estate (2013)
Frequently Asked Questions
As explained by Nick Davies (David Thewlis) in the film, the fifth estate pertains to the alternative media which consists of online journalists, "citizen journalists", bloggers and vloggers who present themselves as an alternative to the mainstream media (the fourth estate)—the press, cinema and television. There is the implication that the estate supplements the three branches of government (legislative, executive and judicial) in their capacities to hold one another accountable. The fifth estate is an abstraction, the category of things to which systems like Wikileaks belongs.
The film is based on the two books Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange and the World's Most Dangerous Website, as well as WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assanges War on Secrecy, both of which are critical of WikiLeaks and especially critical of Julian Assange. Assange himself stated that it is a "serious propaganda attack on WikiLeaks and the integrity of its staff, a 'lie built upon a lie'"; and described it as "fanning the flames for war on Iran", after reading an old copy of the script. Though Assange said that the film is a "hostile work", he also claimed that Cumberbatch who plays him in the film is "personally supportive" of the organization. Birgitta Jonsdottir, who was once a part of WikiLeaks and was consulted by the film producers stated that "the Iran scene has been written out, plus the name has been changed". Jonsdottir also tweeted that Assange does not possess the latest version of the script. Bill Condon, the director stated that... It may be decades before we understand the full impact of WikiLeaks and how its revolutionized the spread of information. So this film wont claim any long view authority on its subject, or attempt any final judgment. We want to explore the complexities and challenges of transparency in the information age and, we hope, enliven and enrich the conversations WikiLeaks has already provoked. Benedict Cumberbatch who portrays the Wikileaks founder stated that, "No matter how you cut it, he's done us a massive service, to wake us up to the zombie-like way we absorb our news".
Bill Condon, the director said that "it has to do with the idea of citizen journalism, the great wild west of the Internet. It's a true revolution that we're just coming to terms with."