Citizenfour

The hotel’s fire alarm testing in Citizenfour = the nighttime controlled explosions in Force Majeure.

I wonder how well this documentary would work with someone who knew nothing of Edward Snowden, who wasn’t aware of the NSA leak when it happened and its subsequent firestorm. Without knowing that context ahead of time and carrying it through the viewing, I doubt the scenes of Snowden in the hotel room breaking down his documents and sharing his (quite poised) reasons for whistleblowing would carry the same weight.

The flipside of that is, remembering that time very clearly and still harboring animosity for the skullduggery Snowden revealed, I thought it was gripping. Poitras’s footage allows us to be present at the epicenter of the hurricane, before and after the public learned of “Ed” Snowden and his very deliberate actions. It’s like a zoomed-in photo negative. Recommended.

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