MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Directed by Laura Poitras. Documentary
On DVD, Blu-ray, HBO GO and digital download.
As Christians who believe in an omniscient God, it is somewhat comforting to hear Jesus remind us “not one [sparrow] will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted.” (Matthew 10:29-30)
But how do you feel about the government having open access to all of your emails, phone calls, internet history and text messages, under the pretext of national security?
In 2013 Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, contacted two journalists (using the code name “citizenfour”) to meet with him in Hong Kong. He felt that the NSA had overstepped its bounds with its massive collection of private data from American citizens and that this needed to become a matter of public record. Laura Poitras (the film’s director) and journalist Glenn Greenwald were chosen by Snowden because of films and articles that they had written that suggested sympathetic sensibilities.
Over a period of a few weeks, Snowden will be treated as a national threat by the NSA and the Obama administration, but the film shows us the events leading up to the full disclosure. Snowden is currently living in exile in Russia; if he returns to America he will charged with treason. Some persons in high places have even suggested the death penalty.
Citizenfour is a brave film, since everyone involved in its creation also risked the possibility of being charged with complicity with Snowden. This has not occurred, but the controversy continues. Knowing United Methodists as I do, I have no doubt that we are divided on this topic as well.
In this information age of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, texting and blogging, millions of people willingly share themselves with the world. It seems as if the most egregious crime is considered identity theft. Public shaming is pandemic.
Regardless of where you stand, you owe it to yourself to watch Citizenfour, which features interviews with Edward Snowden, a young man who is doing what he is doing because he believes that it is the right thing to do. There is a principled foundation to his disclosure of his findings.
What is the moral difference between willfully giving information away and having information gathered from you? And what does it mean to proclaim freedom when our nation begins to restrict our freedom? If you sincerely believe that these restrictions bring you added security, it may be worth the price.
Congress recently passed The Freedom Act to curtail the U. S. government’s access to phone records, a clear response to the information the world knew after Snowden’s disclosure. The dialogue continues.
Three halos: A thought-provoking meditation on the ongoing dialogue between security and freedom and how the expansion of either can lead to the diminishment of the other.
Two pitchforks: Enough casual swearing to push things into R territory.
Do you have comments about this movie or movie review? E-mail your comments. (Comments will be posted to our web site.)
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
COMMENTS! Do you have comments about this movie or movie review?
E-mail comments. (Comments will be posted to our web site.)
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