Oliver Stone has been writing, producing and directing films for the last 45 years. He wrote the screenplay for Scarface, Midnight Express, Evita and wrote and directed films like Salvador, Platoon, Wall Street and JFK. His hard work has been remunerated with Oscars nominations and wins.
Stone is not afraid to make a statement, get political and be controversial. I think he did much of his best work in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. I watched Platoon when I was about the same age as those young soldiers sent to Vietnam and it made a lasting impression’ Salvador haunted me; and JFK made me question powers greater then the presidency operating in the United States.
Despite his credentials, the big studios all eventually turned down his newest film, Snowden. Stone ended up getting funding from Germany and France and had to shoot in Munich. Joseph Gordon-Levitt donated his entire talent fee to the projects encouraging dialogue on the role of technology and the internet in a democracy and to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Edward Snowden used to work for the CIA and was a former contractor working on surveillance and intelligence gathering projects for the United States. In 2013, he gave an interview to three journalists in Hong Kong and he revealed the extent of surveillance the CIA and the NSA was capable of—thus sparking debates on privacy, national security and government secrecy.
He is currently wanted in the US and has temporary asylum in Russia.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, nails it as Snowden—intelligent, reserved but also conflicted between doing his job serving the US government and what he feels is his duty to the people of the United States.
What is revealed in the film may just even be the tip of the iceberg. Just how much privacy have people given up willingly? Just how much do citizens of the world know about how their “democracies” are operating? Just how much information is the government sharing?
Of course the other side of this is having people who freely share information on their social media accounts about their families, their vacations and their love lives. Add to that, the acceptance that an “invasion” of privacy has been the new price to pay for “security.”
Clearly, this film goes against the grain of what we’ve been served lately: superhero films, scary movies, cartoons, remakes and comedies. Snowden may entertain but it can also make people uneasy or ask them to think about their government and world politics.
While it might not be box office gold, Oliver Stone and Joseph Gordon-Levitt do a fine job with Snowden—and at a time when these discussions are more relevant than ever.