Film

Controversial Film, Enlightening Trailer: DreamWorks’ 'The Fifth Estate'

Just like Julian Assange and Wikileaks, DreamWorks' The Fifth Estate is sure to generate controversy, but its first trailer entertains as well as enlightens.

Around midnight on July 16, DreamWorks released the first trailer for The Fifth Estate, the Bill Condon-directed film about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks based on Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s book, Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website. Already the film has generated controversy, with Assange protesting the portrayal, and even people posting reactions to the new trailer on social media added nearly as many comments about the political pros and cons of WikiLeaks as about the trailer’s style or content.

The trailer does double duty, sharing a similar cinematic style with but striving to separate its dramatic content from the recently released Alex Gibney-directed documentary, We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks. Watch the trailer for We Steal Secrets again, and The Fifth Estate’s preview seems to match it almost shot for shot as it rapidly establishes its plot and presents opposing opinions about what may result when a site like WikiLeaks is unleashed upon the world. However, The Fifth Estate is a dramatization, not a documentary, and that alone makes this trailer especially entertaining and enlightening.

The trailer briefly indicates the growing rift between Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Bruhl), a key element in this film that undoubtedly will receive much more screen time when the relationship is not confined to a 2:32 preview. Most often, however, the trailer focuses on Assange’s frenetic actions to reveal formerly secret information and the flurry of international political activity once WikiLeaks goes live. The fast pace and increasingly insistent musical score draw viewers in.

The film hinges on Cumberbatch’s performance—Can he believably portray Assange? According to this trailer, he can, quite effectively. Compare the two WikiLeaks movies’ trailers to see Assange himself in the documentary and Cumberbatch-as-Assange in the dramatization, and the look, mannerisms, and, perhaps most important, voice are spot on. Even Australians commenting on YouTube announce that the actor’s accent is as close to perfect as they have heard from a non-Aussie actor.

While headlines daily report Edward Snowden’s every move (or inability to flee) and Assange remains holed up in a London embassy, this well-made trailer is certainly timely. It sticks to the story and, unlike most trailers, does not introduce its cast. Only the DreamWorks logo appears on screen, allowing the drama to unfold without breaking the audience’s attention to read credits. “If you want the truth, you should seek it out yourself,” Cumberbatch-as-Assange tells the camera. The Fifth Estate wants you to start with this trailer.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

"Without Us? There's No Music": An Interview With Raul Midón

Raul Midón discusses the fate of the art in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. "This is going to shake things up in ways that could be very positive. Especially for artists," he says.

Music

The Fall Go Transatlantic with 'Reformation! Post-TLC'

The Fall's Reformation! Post-TLC, originally released in 2007, teams Mark E. Smith with an almost all-American band, who he subsequently fired after a few months, leaving just one record and a few questions behind.

Film

Masaki Kobayashi's 'Kwaidan' Horror Films Are Horrifically Beautiful

The four haunting tales of Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan are human and relatable, as well as impressive at a formal and a technical level.

Film

The Top 10 Thought-Provoking Science Fiction Films

Serious science fiction often takes a backseat to the more pulpy, crowdpleasing genre entries. Here are 10 titles far better than any "dogfight in space" adventure.

Books

'The Kill Chain': Why America Might Lose Its Next Big War

Christian Brose's defense-nerd position paper, The Kill Chain, inadvertently reveals that the Pentagon's problems (complacency, inertia, arrogance) reflect those of the country at large.

Music

2006's 'Flat-Pack Philosophy' Saw Buzzcocks Determined to Build Something of Quality

With a four-decade career under their belt, on the sixth disc in the new box-set Sell You Everything, it's heartening to see Buzzcocks refusing to settle for an album that didn't try something new.

Books

'Lie With Me': Beauty, Love and Toxic Masculinity in the Gay '80s

How do we write about repression and toxic masculinity without valorizing it? Philippe Besson's Lie With Me is equal parts poignant tribute and glaring warning.

Music

Apparat's 'Soundtrack: Capri-Revolution' Stands Alone As a Great Ambient Experience

Apparat's (aka Sascha Ring) re-imagined score from Mario Martone's 2018 Capri-Revolution works as a fine accompaniment to a meditational flight of fancy.

Music

Chouk Bwa and the Ångströmers Merge Haitian Folk and Electronic Music on 'Vodou Alé'

Haitian roots music meets innovative electronics on Chouk Bwa and the Ångströmers' Vodou Alé.

My Favorite Thing

Weird and Sweet, Riotous and Hushed: The Beatles' 'The White Album'

The Beatles' 'The White Album' is a piece of art that demonstrates how much you can stretch, how far you can bend, how big you really are. The album is deeply weird. It has mass. It has its own weather.

Music

Sarah Jarosz Finds Inspiration in Her Texas Roots on 'World on the Ground'

By turning to her roots in central Texas for inspiration on World on the Ground, Sarah Jarosz has crafted some of her strongest songs yet.

Music

Hinds' 'The Prettiest Curse' Is One of Victory

On The Prettiest Curse, Hinds create messy pop music that captures the vibrancy of youth without being childish.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.