“Snowden” Movie Analysis

Reflection of the historic reality through the prism of cinematographic and fictional material becomes a popular tendency of the contemporary world. A movie can be applied as a tool for presenting an event or preserving historic reality. The cases, which occurred few years ago and concerned the national interests, are considered history today. Thus, the sensational statements of the computer analyst and whistleblower of the CIA Edward Snowden are related not only the USA but also to the entire world. The events took place in 2013, and the filmmakers presented a movie dedicated to the-well known CIA intelligence worker. A film can be considered a new reminder about the terrible truth, which Snowden revealed warring people to be careful. Snowden is a traditional thriller with the elements of spy movie and drama. It presents the US government as a central protagonist. Although the film shows the historic events, the filmmakers apply many modifications to it. They changed the personalities of the main characters and that of the story transforming the real case into the spy thriller.

Real History Presented in the Movie

Snowden is a true story about the most impressive revelation of the XXI century. Edward Snowden worked in CIA as a computer professional. He could not accept rough penetration of the government into the private life of the citizens. The CIA employed him in Hawaii in the area of the electronic monitoring. Anyway, the level of the violation of the civil citizens’ right to private life impressed him. He revealed mass collection of data through Internet resources and cell phones. Snowden had made an attempt to improve the world and stop collection of personal information, which was conducted through illegal penetration into private issues, reading messages, spying on social networks, line eavesdropping, and control of web cameras as well as cell phones. In addition to it, he presented the evidence of the espionage of American intelligence agencies in the area of international relations and affairs of the G20 summits participants (MacAskill, Davies, Hopkins, Borger, & Ball, 2013).


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Certainly, Snowden confirms the beginning of the new era, which initiates new type of war. A war of this sort can be conducted without army and material losses since informational technologies control the world. It is associated with the social and economic advantages of the US government on the global scale. What is more, the statement evidently proves the intention of the Central Intelligence Agency together with the government to create a super powerful state possessing the most essential information in the world and being able to resist any potential threat. “He has been charged in the US with theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence” (“Edward Snowden,” 2014). In any case, the film by Oliver Stone is based on the true story about the computer hero of the contemporary time. The filmmakers hyperbolized many details of the movie to make it more appropriate for a spy picture and highlighted the personality of a real hero who sacrificed his freedom, happiness, career, money, and life in the native country in order to support his moral and ethical beliefs as well as values. Anyway, the movie demonstrates the idea that this decision must be respected and honored.

Changes of the Historic Event

The producers had added many details to the film and created quite impressive picture with the idealized main character. The presented movie contains useful historic material on the events, which happened in America in 2013. The main idea has real background. However, Oliver Stone provides additional information about the main character. The film director incorporated certain details concerning his private life into Snowden. The first one is the service in Special Forces. It seems that Edward undergoes really long and intensive training; he also has high moral intension to protect his country (Stone, 2016). However, in reality, he does not do it. He breaks his legs and cannot complete the training. The director does not underline the details but he makes the military practice of the main character more impressive. The beginning of his carrier in NSA was more enforced than desirable thing though in reality, Snowden was not as excited about the armed forces as it was presented in the movie.

The film shows Snowden as one of the main analysts of the CIA though he was not so perfect. His fundamental contribution to the agency development is demonstrated in the movie. However, for real, Snowden does not have particular role in it and performs casual computer issues concerning the collection and evaluation of the information. His efforts and achievements involve only special role in revealing data and promulgating it (Blusiewicz, 2014). Certainly, the filmmakers intentionally idealized the main character and his girlfriend. It was an attempt to present not only a successful spy picture but also an interesting dramatic story. Lindsey Mills is Edward’s girlfriend, and in reality, she was not aware of his work and desire to leak information to The Guardian. He asked the journalists to admit her absolute innocence in the case. However, in the movie, Lindsey was actively involved since Edward informed her about the threat. The director made the additions to her character’s personality and their relations in order to create a dramatic line in the plot and attract the viewers.

The personality of the main character is also changed. The filmmakers aimed to show a perfect person who preferred moral issues to excellent circumstances of life. Edward Snowden’s image in the movie is far away from his real personality. It is undoubtedly that his efforts should be respected; however, the image of Snowden is presented as a heroic one. The film depicts how other workers and analysts support the actions of the main character. Although they do not participate openly, people approve Edward’s moral act. Thus, the filmmakers add much information, various details, and characters, which do not have their direct real-life prototypes. Snowden does not have real support of his colleagues. In addition, their reaction on Snowden’s actions is quite uncertain and regards them from the negative perspective (Blusiewicz, 2014). Thus, the analysts from NSA do not support Snowden’s actions and critically characterize him. The filmmakers applied many interesting conceptions in order to make the movie more thrilling since direct reflection of the historic events would not be so exciting and impressive. Like any other spy movie, it has a hook – an unexpected and brilliant idea. Certainly, in Snowden, it is the idea with Rubik’s cube. Naturally, the journalists and public are not aware of the way the famous analyst passed leaked information through the security. It is obvious that the problem was quite complicated, and he could solve it only with the help of extraordinary and exceptional approach. However, it is one of the most interesting details of the Snowden’s case. The filmmakers had a huge space for applying their personal imagination and extraordinary thinking. According to the film, Snowden passed the files in a small card hidden in a Rubik’s cube. The security did not check the toy since Edward gave it to the guardian and asked him in a joking manner whether he could handle it. It was a distracting trick, and being puzzled with a cube, the security did not take into consideration a real threat. The idea is really interesting and unique. However, the true story is still confidential. Little and colorful cube presents a symbolical puzzle, which underlines that every innocent technical issue can hide serious threat even if people feel confident about it.

However, the film contains much essential information based on facts. In particular, it illustrates the crimes of the US government concerning the violation of human rights and privacy. The movie explains the main issues of internal and international espionage of the NSA intelligence program in an easy form. What is more, Snowden pays much attention to the behavior of the analysts. It is the most interesting detail. Edward Snowden took a serious action, which threatened national security and revealed confidential information. It is a high risk to him and his family. Anyway, his interview with the journalists of The Guardian is amazingly calm, which is more than unnatural, since he was sure that he could be killed or jailed soon (MacAskill, 2016). The filmmakers present this strange issue as close to reality as it is possible making the movie an important source of biographical and historic information.

Limitations and Possibilities

The changes presented in the movie are associated with the contemporary beliefs and values though they are more connected with the cinematographic aspect than with the ethical one. Additions and alternations are necessary for the creation of an interesting and exciting picture for the viewers. If a director applies only true historic information, a movie does not have such an impressive effect. The exaggeration is used in response to the cinematographic demands since Snowden is rather a spy movie with the elements of a thriller. In addition, the trick with a Rubik’s cube is a hook – a traditional film detail making the movie unexpected. A spectator cannot even imagine that a small toy will be an essential tool at the end of the film. The ethical and moral reason for using exaggeration is the intention to present Edward Snowden as a hero not only in the country but also on the international scale. The information about the surveillance program of CIA, which he provides, is quite valuable since it is rather the caution concerning the use of the web services and cell phones. Thus, his personality is presented as a highly moral one. For this reason, the film can be applied as tool for preserving historical memory without serious limitations. Snowden is a valuable picture in the historic context since it provides the way of honoring a person who shows real serving to the national interests. Edward Snowden was afraid that his statements would be forgotten in few years, and the government would use the information for the implementation of the new order of control and discrimination (Brickell, 2014). The movie is a possibility to remind the nation about governmental crimes against the human rights and freedom. What is more, it is a way to show the case in history when moral virtues of a human overcame avarice. The only problem is the cinematographic changes, which transform the main characters giving them additional peculiarities. Nevertheless, they cannot be an obstacle in honoring the history of the Snowden’s case.


Thus, Snowden is a true story about the events of 2013, which impressed all the country and entire world. A young analyst working on CIA leaked confidential information about illegal penetration of the US government into private lives of citizens. He was incriminated the treason. However, his moral and ethical values do not allow him to stay indifferent. Edward Snowden revealed shocking details of the national and international espionage, which NSA conducted. The movie presents the most essential historical issues concerning Snowden’s case though there are also many additional details, which exaggerate the real story and change the personalities of the main characters, in it. The film depicts the main character as a person who is smarter and more deeply devoted to the national interests than the real-life prototype. The filmmakers pay much attention to his military service and idealize his participation in NSA presenting Snowden as one of the leading specialists. They also show the intention of the colleagues to help him. However, these changes cannot be a serious obstacle for presenting a movie as a tool for preserving historical heritage, which must be respected and honored.

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