WikiLeaks releases script of Dreamworks’ The Fifth Estate and brands the film “irresponsible and harmful”.
WikiLeaks has released what it calls a late version of DreamWorks’ script for The Fifth Estate alongside a 4,000 word memo critiquing the film as “irresponsible, counterproductive and harmful”.
The film, which opened the Toronto International Film Festival ealier this month, was produced by DreamWorks, among others, and will be distributed in the US by Disney.
Directed by Bill Condon, the dramatic thriller centres on news-leaking website WikiLeaks and stars Benedict Cumberbatch as founder Julian Assange, and Daniel Brühl as its former spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg.
The script released to the public is, according to the whistleblowing site, “a mature version, obtained at a late stage during the principal photography of 2013”.
Earlier today, the group tweeted: “As WikiLeaks was never consulted about the Dreamworks/Disney film on us, we’ve given our advice for free: It’s bad.”
The group picks apart what it sees as the film’s implication that WikiLeaks’ releases of classified documents from the US State Department led to the exposure and potential harming of more than 2,000 informants around the world; the central role of Daniel Domscheit-Berg, the German WikiLeaks defector upon whose memoir the film is partly based; and whether Assange actually dyes his hair white, as the film states at one point.
The memo claims the film is “a work of fiction masquerading as fact” and said: “Most of the events depicted never happened, or the people shown were not involved in them.”
It also cautions that there are “very high stakes involved in how WikiLeaks is perceived”.
“This film does not occur in a historical vacuum, but appears in the context of ongoing efforts to bring a criminal prosecution against WikiLeaks and Julian Assange for exposing the activities of the Pentagon and the US State Department”.
The memo also claims that actor Cumberbatch worried that there was an agenda to make Assange a “cartoon baddie”.
Quoting the British actor from an interview with The Guardian, Cumberbatch is reported to have said: “I think I may get my head bitten off by Disney for saying so, but everyone agreed with that.”
In January, Assange claimed that he had read a copy of the script, and called it “a mass propaganda attack against WikiLeaks, the organization (and) the character of my staff.”
The film’s director, Bill Condon, stated during production: “It may be decades before we understand the full impact of WikiLeaks and how it’s revolutionized the spread of information. So this film won’t claim any long view authority on its subject, or attempt any final judgment.
“We want to explore the complexities and challenges of transparency in the information age and, we hope, enliven and enrich the conversations WikiLeaks has already provoked.”
DreamWorks and distributor Disney were unavailable for comment at the time of publication.