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Benedict Cumberbatch Is Julian Assange – The Fifth Estate Trailer

The Fifth Estate Trailer
Wow, these biopics are getting more and more up-to-date. No sooner does it seem that an event is out of the news than its participants are appearing on the big screen in one form or another.

In the case of WikiLeaks controversial founder Julian Assange, that form is in Bill Condon’s The Fifth Estate, which seems fit to explore, amongst others things, the leaking of thousands of US diplomatic cables, the biggest in world history. The trailer opens with the Wikileaks team, including Benedict Cumberbatch’s Assange, watching the infamous footage of an American military helicopter firing on unarmed reporters – which would seem to suggest, from the off, that the film is, in the very least, sympathetic to Assange’s cause, to the need for accountability. While Laura Linney government official may drolly remark that they stand for “truth, justice, the American way”, it’s clear they serve a valuable purpose.

Cumberbatch’s Assange, platinum-haired and slightly puffy-faced, remarks that, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person, but if you give him a mask he will tell you the truth”. He and his colleague, played by Daniel Bruhl, are shown wandering – Assange in his iconic cat and backpack -, by train, by car, looking for that “one moral man, that whistleblower” who will make it possible to expose the truth; the whistleblower that we, the audience, know will be incarnated as Bradley Manning (whose role in the film, if any, remains unknown). The Fifth Estate, however, doesn’t seem to forget the cost of these leaks: Bruhl’s Daniel Domscheit-Berg stands up to Assange to remind him of the collateral damage that comes from making such information public, though Assange seems to caught up in the faceless many he might yet save, in the praise of a journalist who tells him that a man like him might have brought down the Berlin Wall years earlier.

After making his presence known in TV and cinema over the last couple of years, ‘The Fifth Estate’ seems likely to be Cumberbatch’s first shot as an Oscar: a brave man driven by social conscience or a self-righteous creep looking to perpetuate his ego, the trailer suggests that either – indeed both – interpretations might be possible possible. Assange himself as already condemned the film as slanderous, though what we’ve seen indicates it to be a largely sympathetic portrayal. The closest comparison in recent cinematic history might well be ‘The Social Network’, the story of a brilliant human being who brought about a paradigm shift in their own field. With Assange still holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, the end images may even be similar: their protagonist in purgatory, a life put on hold.

In any case, The Fifth Estate is due out in the US on October 11th and the UK on January 1st.

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4 Comments »

  • Sheridan Passell said

    Cumberbatch as Assange looks like an alien.

    Seems like the movie’s line is he did good work until he revealed something about the US government, because that was going too far. Hmm.

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  • Emma Goldstein said

    “The Fifth Estate” is based in part on Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s “Inside WikiLeaks.” It presents Domscheit-Berg as a hero for standing up to Assange. Here he is in his own words:

    Along with trying to found a global anti-censorship movement, I had assigned myself another job, perhaps the toughest of my life. I had gotten t-shirts printed with the WL logo…because I wanted to save two cents per t-shirt, I’d ordered them in white…Who buys white t-shirts? Especially in a social clique where black t-shirts are something of a dress code. I myself had never worn a white t-shirt in my entire life!

    Now I was sitting on 250 shirts…I literally had to stop people in their tracks as they were passing our stand and beg them to trade €5 from their wallets for a t-shirt.

    Julian preferred to engage potential customers in deep conversations about the state of the world. He stood there talking and talking, occasionally getting into an argument, until no one was thinking about t-shirts anymore…

    
(I had) the idea to have the WL hourglass tattooed on my back…I needed two Tylenol with water and was constantly asking Fjölnir which country of the logo he was on. ‘Now doing Iceland.’ I sighed. ‘Morocco.’ OMG. By the time we got to Cape Hope, hope was something I no longer had. To this day I run around with half of a WL logo tattooed on my back.
    
- Daniel Domscheit-Berg, “Inside WikiLeaks.”

    What do you think?

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