Citizenfour  photo starrating-3stars.jpgI suppose one must make a distinction between what Edward Snowden did and how this documentary presents his contribution to society. There’s no question what Snowden achieved took a lot of courage. The repercussions of his actions will be felt for years to come. He is wholly unassuming in one sense, someone about which you might pass on the street and not think twice. He’s an extremely erudite, well spoken bespectacled gentleman, a geek to some perhaps, but a young, slim, handsome man nonetheless, with a girlfriend for whom he is worried. He‘s a whistleblower if you will, a concerned member of the community who leaked classified intelligence from the National Security Agency (NSA) where he worked that gave damning evidence regarding their illegal surveillance techniques on the American public. The effects of which are still being discussed today.

Back in January 2013, documentarian Laura Poitras was contacted via email by a stranger using the pseudonym Citizenfour. The unknown associate offered inside knowledge about extensive privacy abuses by the NSA against its own citizens in the U.S. The man was Edward Snowden, an American computer professional, who wanted to tell his story. He met with Poitras and investigative journalists Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill, who was the Guardian intelligence correspondent. Regardless of your opinion of Snowden, he seemingly has no ulterior motive other than to convey information he genuinely felt must be revealed in order to benefit humanity. Edward Snowden’s choice to come forward and simply discuss what he knows forms the basis of this chronicle.

Citizenfour is an insider’s look into a groundbreaking event. What Poitras records is Edward Snowden’s anxiety. The fear of an ordinary man that is exposing what he must in a Hong Kong hotel room. At one point a fire-alarm test in the building has him utterly paranoid that the authorities are coming to get him. The document is filmed over 8 days detailing Snowden’s discussions with journalists Greenwald and MacAskill. Occasionally we break away and witness U.S. officials in court give contradictory testimony. They assert no such surveillance is being done, despite warnings to the contrary. These governmental practices are supposedly necessary in a post 9/11 world – the unfortunate result of terrorist activity. Citizenfour is a rather claustrophobically set in a hotel room. As a revolutionary moment in history that chronicles the life-changing decision of a brave man, it‘s an important work that demands to be seen. In that sense, this feature is indispensable. As a work of entertainment, however, it leaves something to be desired.


11 Responses to “Citizenfour”

  1. Still have not seen it, but very interested to check it out.


  2. Yeah, it was a bit dry wasn’t it? I saw this a couple months back but could not summon the interest to actually say something about it.


    • Citizenfour received so much positive critical acclaim that I felt compelled to watch/review it. Yes it aggravated me to hear these things about the NSA for sure. The interview of Snowden helped emphasize the abuses, but the documentary itself was just so…>deep breath< …


  3. Sounds interesting and a little sad. I’m kinda curious on seeing this.


  4. I’ve heard this is a great documentary and an important story to hear. Your last sentence, “In that sense, this feature is indispensable. As a work of entertainment, however, it leaves something to be desired.” had me wondering though, what about it didn’t work for you? You didn’t really discuss any negatives in your review.


  5. just saw this and I totally agree with you. important but bland….

    you summed it up perfectly.

    this movie only has the chance to win because the Academy didnt want to honor Roger Ebert (which was far superior to this movie)


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