ByAlec Enright, writer at
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Alec Enright

Fall movie season is upon us, and the first major release, Snowden, hits screens on September 16. The political thriller is about Edward Snowden, the government contractor who leaked classified documents to the public, exposing government surveillance programs, many of them run by the National Security Agency (NSA). Without getting into the politics or international affairs side of things, here are five things you should know about Snowden before seeing the movie in theaters.

5. Director Oliver Stone And Star Joseph Gordon-Levitt Met With Snowden

Photo via IB Times UK
Photo via IB Times UK

Director Oliver Stone and star Joseph Gordon-Levitt met with Edward Snowden multiple times over the course of the production of this film. The meetings, which took place in Moscow due to Snowden's exile, were for research purposes. Stone and Gordon-Levitt wanted to get to know Snowden better in preparation for making this film. Gordon-Levitt compared Snowden to Philippe Petit, another real-life figure whom he portrayed on the big screen in 2015's The Walk.

4. Don't Expect It To Be Just About Snowden's Whistle-Blowing

Photo: Open Road Films
Photo: Open Road Films

While Snowden's leaking of the classified government documents is certainly what brought him international notoriety, the film will not focus solely on that chapter of his life. The film is described as a biographical film in addition to being a political thriller, so expect back stories and characters from throughout Snowden's life. In addition to being a government contractor, Edward Snowden had an IQ of 145, worked for the CIA and Dell, as well as having enlisted in the Army Reserve as a special forces candidate. Snowden did not complete his training due to injuries sustained during training, and was later discharged from the military. Expect the movie to touch on many of these elements, especially his short-lived military career, which was featured prominently in the trailer for the film.

3. Edward Snowden May Be The Main Character, But It's An Ensemble Film

Photo: Open Road Films
Photo: Open Road Films

We know the star of the movie is going to be Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but he will have a strong cast around him. Snowden's many stars include Shailene Woodley as Snowden's girlfriend Lindsay Mills, Melissa Leo as documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, Zachary Quinto as Glenn Greenwald, the journalist Snowden worked with to disclose the classified documents, Nicolas Cage as Hank Forrester, and many more actors. Oliver Stone got a really talented cast to work with, so expect everyone's abilities to be showcased. Oh, and not to mention, Edward Snowden will be appearing in the movie as himself.

2. American Companies Didn't Want Anything To Do With Snowden

Most companies in the United States cannot afford to be political, and due to the polarizing nature of Snowden's actions, American studios refused to get involved with the film while it was being produced. Due to these reasons, the film itself was shot in Germany, after being financed by French and German companies. The fact that American companies wanted no involvement made production very difficult on Oliver Stone, who had to miss his mother's funeral because he could not afford to miss four days of production. Stone has interpreted American companies' refusal to be involved as not very pro-America, and has stated that he shot the film in Germany out of fear of what the NSA might do to him had he shot it in the United States.

1. Expect Snowden To Take A Political Stance


Oliver Stone is never shy about expressing his true feelings through his films, and expect Snowden to be no different. Pictured above is Stone's last political film, W., for which he was criticized as being too empathetic towards the former president. Snowden has also said that George W. Bush is the second worst president in US History, and those feelings showed up in W. Snowden also deals with a very polarizing political figure and subject, and by the end of the film, you should know which side of the metaphorical political fence Oliver Stone sits on regarding the issue of Snowden's leaking of classified information.

Snowden hits theaters September 16, 2016.

Check out the official trailer for Snowden below:

Are you excited for Snowden? Anything else someone seeing it should know? Say so in the comments!


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