The answer to the title of this film, "Julian Assange: A Modern Day Hero?," is still a work in progress. There is no doubt that Assange and his WikiLeaks website have profoundly affected the world, and I think that apparently for the good. But the use of the information provided by the website still hasn't reached its potential. "Julian Assange: A Modern Day Hero?" is an incredibly informative and engaging documentary that will give the viewer enough information about Assange and his purpose in life.
The film is divided into eight chapters, each one opening with the line "courage is contagious." In part one, Assange gives a brief description of what WikiLeaks is all about: support transparency and produce positive political reform, a message that we will hear, in different ways, during the entirety of the film. The second part begins one month after Bradley Manning, a United States Army soldier (some say intelligence analyst), was sent to prison for passing restricted information to WikiLeaks, and putting Assange on the run for the potential publishing of the leaked documents on his website. There is footage of Assange meeting with representatives of The Guardian, The New York Times, and Der Spiegel, the three newspapers that agreed to publish the documents. It also shows Assange giving conferences and interviews before the material was published and the world knew about it. Part Three deals with the anticipated moment, when 92,000 were released by WikiLeaks and the three chosen newspapers. These documents covered a 6-year period of the war in Afghanistan, and Assange talks about them. Part four, of course, focus on the impact of the release on the press and the world. Inevitable comparisons about this leakage are made with that of the Pentagon papers by Daniel Ellsberg in 1971. On the other hand, in Part five we witness the consequences of the release, and Ellsberg is interviewed. There is also a concise history of Assange and his adventures in hacking in Australia, his life in Iceland, and an analysis in detail about the famous Iraq video, in which we witness civilians being massacred by US soldiers. This video put WikiLeaks and Assange in the radar. Finally, Parts Six, Seven, and Eight feature many interviews of and conferences by Julian Assange, in which every aspect of WikiLeaks and its archive is examined, and where we learn that "WikiLeaks is an uncensorable website run by the Sunshine Press... which publishes first release documentary leaks or censored materials."
As I indicated earlier, you may already have an opinion about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. Before watching this amazing documentary, I supported WikiLeaks and its mission, which is far from finished. After watching "Julian Assange: A Modern Day Hero?," not only has my support of the website increased, but I truly admire Julian Assange. This is one incredibly smart, articulate fellow, who was born to do what he does - so well, I may add. He truly understands the world and the forces that rule it. (2011, color, 180 mins).
Reviewed on June 21, 2011 exclusively by Eric Gonzalez for MVD Visual.