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Wikileaks post The Fifth Estate script and tirade

TheFifthEstate.jpgWikiLeaks has, of course, been rather vocal about the film The Fifth Estate which looks to Julian Assange and the events that brought he and WikiLeaks to the fore of the news as it released secret U.S. documents, unedited, revealing never before known information about U.S. military and political operations, both passed and ongoing.

While the makers of the film claim that this is an early script WikiLeaks say it is a “mature” version and not only post it in its entirety but also set about trying to attack it from start to finish, from the silliest mention to the most serious. WikiLeaks is not happy.

Of course the good news for the film The Fifth Estate is that this is all great publicity, the more that WikiLeaks dislikes the film and talks so openly about it, especially in the way it has, the more people will hear about it and perhaps have their interest piqued in it, I know mine has been.

The Fifth Estate is directed by Bill Condon and written by Josh Singer, writer on Fringe, Lie to Me, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and The West Wing, which are all incredibly pertinent to Julian Assange's story. Singer adapted the story from two books Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website (Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com) by Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a colleague of Assange's in the early days of the site, and WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy by the two journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding (Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com).

You can read the script over on WikiLeaks, found through The Guardian article, and then afterwards head to their commentary, but don't let either affect your desire to see the film especially as the film-makers are keen to assert that this is not the script that we will see in the film and this is an early version.

WikiLeaks claim many things about the script and reading their bullet point lists of things they claim are incorrect does make for interesting reading, but they must be read as carefully as much as every other viewpoint should be.

THE FIFTH ESTATE falsely implies that WikiLeaks harmed 2,000 US government informants.

Well to be fair there was more than an implication made in real life, there were accusations made and so the film should reflect this shouldn't it? I would say so. There's no point ignoring the issue because it was, and is, such an important aspect of the morality of posting such information for all to read.

US Brig. Gen. Robert Carr - who was tasked to investigate this matter by the Pentagon - in fact stated under oath when examined by the defense counsel that there was no harm whatsoever.

“no harm whatsoever” doesn't actually appear in the document they identify and reading it carefully presents a much more balanced commentary than they suggest. While it does suggest that the government over-egged the position of danger it also doesn't dismiss the idea and reading it carefully shows that there's still a belief the act has endangered people just that they can't directly prove it - the source article even states that some of the people mentioned couldn't be contacted, I guess the assumption there is that they are just fine and nothing happened to them as a result of these leaks, and if they were missing because they were in danger or dead, it's nothing to do with this.

You see, there are always sides and when anyone is writing something they are presenting their agenda. Sometimes it's easier to see than others and I think WikiLeaks isn't helping themselves with some of what this statement is claiming and in the way it claims it.

How about this quote from Benedict Cumberbatch through an archive copy of a Vogue article that they use to show that…

“Even those working on The Fifth Estate said it had an agenda”

Here is his quote:

"On a lot of the stage direction, we collided paths because Bill did seem to be setting him up as this antisocial megalomaniac."

However if you read on to the next sentence the article says:

…before detailing the lengths he took to balance out the portrait.

That part doesn't appear in WikiLeaks statement about the film. You could say that they are being overly selective in choosing their comments to present a different view of the film, something that does seem to go against what they claim to be about.

How about the statement they make:

Cumberbatch worried that there was an agenda to make Assange a “cartoon baddie”

…and use the quote from Cumberbatch through a Guardian article:

When Cumberbatch first read the script, he worried that it cast Assange as some kind of cartoon baddie. "I think I may get my head bitten off by Disney for saying so, but everyone agreed with that."

Again they don't include the following part:

He immersed himself in research, reading endlessly and interviewing people who knew Assange, and gradually the script evolved into a more nuanced portrayal. His performance draws heavily on his research into Assange's childhood.

Oh look, there's the balanced view, the counterpoint to the statement that WikiLeaks are grabbing to make the film look one-sided and biased.

To be fair they do complain about the source books being biased and inaccurate, things I cannot check for myself just now, but then I thought that their case would have been against the books and they could have stopped them from being printed if they were so inaccurate.

There are claims about characters in the film not being there or people who claim to have been and were involved in events weren't, again this could all be true but then the place for that would be in the courts and if there were blatant lies like this they could result in an edit or a halt on the film, or perhaps the source books when they were first released.

There are other sections where they try to put the blame for the unedited release of all the U.S. Diplomatic Cables on both The Guardian journalist who co-wrote one of the books used for the basis of the film and the ex-colleague and co-author of the other book but even the source article ultimately points out that WikiLeaks published the documents.

The statement also makes bold accusations against the script which, on closer inspection rather than just taking the statement at face value, don't wholly hold up. Statements such as:

The film falsely states that Julian Assange has been charged (with 'rape') and makes a number of other related false imputations.

Yet selecting the link to the WikiLeaks article gives us the description:

After Daniel left WikiLeaks in 2010, Swedish Prosecutors issued a warrant for Julian's arrest accusing him of two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape.

The script doesn't appear to say anything about being charged with rape, although to be fair the wording is a more British courts way of presenting what has been issued in Sweden and it is more an interview pertaining to various sexual offences.

I feel I have to stop here. Reading the statement feels more like an attempt to skew comments and facts to present a completely opposite view and as I was reading it I got more and more uncomfortable and uneasy with what was being said and claimed.

They would have been better presenting their argument factually and in an unbiased way, instead it has isolated and marginalised both WikiLeaks and Julian Assange even more in my mind, and that comes from someone who does get frustrated with how much Hollywood skews actual events for entertainment.

Some things need to be remembered and WikiLeaks covers it perfectly well themselves:

The film is fictional. Most of the events depicted never happened, or the people shown were not involved in them. It has real names, real places, and looks like it is covering real events, but it is still a dramatic and cinematic work, and it invents or shapes the facts to fit its narrative goals…

…People should not in any way treat this film as an historical account of WikiLeaks, its activities or its personnel.

Watch Pearl Harbor (Harbour), Braveheart, U-571, and many, many more films alleged to be actual events. This happens all the time in film and it is a serious issue.

The thing to remember about all of this is not to take one side's view as the complete truth. Read sources, gather context, and make your own conclusions. Don't get taken in by someone's conspiracy theories nor by another's negative portrayal. Look for the real facts, the complete quotations and understand for yourselves.

Don't take the word of a film or a book or an article written by people working for someone whom they are defending as the sole basis for your truth. Read them all, find the actual facts for yourself, and don't rely on someone's spoon fed version.

Oh, and go and see the film The Fifth Estate without other's biased views, don't be put off from going to see it because someone else thinks you shouldn't. Go and see it and make up your own mind.




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