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Julian Assange Says 'The Fifth Estate' Is "Mass Propaganda" And The Script "A Lie Built On a Lie"

by Charlie Schmidlin
January 28, 2013 9:25 AM
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While “Lincoln” hovers in DreamWorks' awards season spotlight mainly for Daniel Day Lewis' towering performance, the studio is wisely also glancing ahead to its other doppelganger drama, WikiLeaks biopic “The Fifth Estate,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange. They've certainly put in a vote of confidence with a locked winter 2013 release date, but one party remains less than thrilled, simply on the entire prospect: the famed whistleblower himself.

Assange has recently come forward with sharp criticisms of the Bill Condon-directed film, after obtaining a leaked copy of the script penned by writer Josh Singer ("The West Wing"). In a videolink speech before the Oxford Union debating society last week, the computer expert called the film “a mass propaganda attack against WikiLeaks, the organization [and] the character of my staff."

While playing down his methods of acquiring the script (but hinting at views of previous drafts), Assange said the film focuses on a fictional mole in Iran's nuclear program, who then discovers the country will soon complete an atom bomb as well as ballistic missile capabilities. When WikiLeaks publishes his name, he's forced to flee to Iraq, but as Assange describes it, the entire narrative is "a lie built on a lie."

He claims the U.S. intelligence community agreed that Iran's development of nuclear arms ceased in 2003, and that any evidence of WikiLeaks' part in an Iran mole's exposure had yet to surface. "[The filmmakers] tried to frame Iran as having an active nuclear weapons program. Then they try to frame WikiLeaks as the reason why that's not known to the public now," he said.

With the film's apparent concentration on the Islamic Republic's atomic energy program -- and its opening scenes set in Tehran and Cairo - Assange concluded that the film is not only an attack against him, but also “an attack against Iran. It fans the flames of an attack against Iran."

A rep from DreamWorks declined to comment on Assange's accusatory response, but if a political bias shuffle from “Zero Dark Thirty” to Condon's film hadn't already occurred, it may start now. Much of it perhaps too early for the director's liking as well, as the project -- with Cumberbatch opposite Daniel Bruhl as WikiLeaks co-founder Daniel Domscheit-Berg -- has just begun production.

We'll see how much veracity lies in Assange's claims when “The Fifth Estate” opens November 15th, boasting a tremendous cast including Laura Linney, "Downton Abbey" star Dan Stevens, Alicia Vikander, Carice Van Houten, Anthony Mackie, David Thewlis, and Peter Capaldi. []

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  • notme norme | January 28, 2013 6:01 PMReply

    This is incredible; someone making a movie about your life stating that they know your life better than you - it smells and feels propaganda!
    Please help support freedom of the press and freedom of information by sponsoring Julian Assange for the Nobel prize for freedom of the press: Google: Julian Assange for Nobel prize "Freedom of the Press" and vote!

  • Alan B | January 29, 2013 3:00 AM

    What the crap are you talking about? The filmmakers never said that they know Assange better than he does. They are dramatists, and their goal is to transform Assange's experiences into the most dramatically compelling story possible. Whether they achieve their goals is still a mystery, but it ain't propaganda just because the filmmakers don't declare that everyone else is corrupt and Assange is the greatest guy in the world. Also, is there a difference between something 'smelling' like propaganda and it 'feeling' like propaganda? You included both terms, so I am baffled as to their different inferences.

  • MJ | January 28, 2013 12:27 PMReply

    With the lead actor & material this could be very interesting, unfortunately it's being made by Bill Condon which doesn't inspire much confidence regardless of the screenplay's quality.

  • Tom | January 29, 2013 6:12 AM

    Please do acquaint yourself with "Kinsey" and "Gods and Monsters" first before you bash Condon.

  • Maggie | January 28, 2013 4:12 PM

    Condon also directed 'Gods and Monsters' and 'Kinsey', and I think hardly anyone can do great with the material like Twilight.

  • Mark | January 28, 2013 12:05 PMReply

    Jesus, will the propaganda never end? First Argo demonized Iran, ZDT further fanned the flames of an anti-Muslim sentiment (as well as propagating the notion of American exceptionalism) and now this? If you thought Bush had an easy time selling the American people on the war in Iraq, Obama doesn't even have to try... Hollywood is doing it for him.

  • Alan B | January 28, 2013 6:11 PM

    Also, if you have actually READ either of the books that this film is based on, you'll know that Assange is a passive aggressive control freak who sees even the most constructive criticism of his work as an attack on WikiLeaks and its ideology. No surprise then that he would suggest that any film version is "propaganda".

  • Alan B | January 28, 2013 6:04 PM

    What does 'fan the flames' actually mean? If it actually means having a point of view that other people don't like, then - yes - those films do 'fan the flames' ... as if viewers are morons and incapable of making their own judgements. Give me - and the world - a break ....

  • jingmei | January 28, 2013 9:34 AMReply

    No doubt gonna be controvercial. Meanwhile Benedict looks more quicky than the real person himself. Anyhow highly anticipate this film.

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