Citizenfour

November 1, 2014

new-york-film-festival-2014-citizenfour-movie-review-ed8ac34b-e9e2-4583-8a9d-a1f72f1b327a

Citizenfour is the code name Snowden used in his communications with the journalists.

Citizenfour完整地紀綠了斯諾登洩密事件的過程和始末,由他最初用加密電郵聯絡記者,及後到美麗華酒店接受訪問,直至他接受俄羅斯庇護,以記者的第一身視點呈現出來。

斯諾登在酒店逗留了超過一個星期, 期間向記者耐心闡釋英美情報機關精密、龐大而駭人的竊聽網絡。在訪問的字裡行間,可以看見他思路和邏輯都非常清晰。對於自己洩密的後果,亦已經想得一清二楚。在計劃中,他並沒有要求記者以保護消息來源為名而隱姓埋名,反之,他希望透過公開自己身份,去鼓勵更多人告密,向世界揭示英美政權違法不義的惡行。記者問:什麼驅使你告密?他帶著一絲年輕人的傻勁,回:Now we live under a government of the ruler and the ruled, instead of one that is made up of the elected and the electorate,擲地有聲。在強權壓迫之下,人不需要受什麼唆擺、煽動或利誘,自己也懂得明辨是非,走在叛逆路上。在鎂光燈背後,衛報記者Gleen Greenward和導演Laura Poitras為了公開斯諾登的故事,也屢遭阻撓。

看畢全片,不禁想起香港的事、香港人多年的奮鬥。有人會說:屌你睇,英國美國咪一撚樣,都係以言入罪,拉晒你啲異見人士,邊有民主㗎。沒錯,我可以肯定告訴你,類似的不文明、反民主事件,每天都在英美發生。但正正就是因為她們的制度,仍然保障人和資訊可以(相對)自由地流通,才造就了這部電影、造就了斯諾登、造就了每天冒死捍衛這個制度的記者。民主,從來都不是由當權者所恩賜的,因為權力就像癌細胞一樣,在沒有制約的情況下必然會無憂止地擴散,直至載體奄奄一息而已。在自由的國度,人們對於癌細胞仍然聞之色變,暢所欲言去探討消滅癌細胞的方法,在一切失效時,用化療解決。又,在另一國自由的國度裡,有人說癌細胞也有牠的可取之處,討論消滅癌細胞是不切實際,而且化療的效果因人而異,亦非必要。

何其諷刺。

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We, human, are driven by a number of innate forces. There are forces that perfect us – the pursuit of truth and freedom; and the ones that could wreck us – the lust for love and power. For most of the time, these forces are within our control (well.. maybe not so much about love). By carefully exerting these forces upon the world we live in, we are one step closer to finding our meaning and feeling alive. In Cloud Atlas, we could see all these forces at work, in those who rebel against oppression: slaves breaking off of their chains, people fighting for the slaves, abandoned old people escaping the elderly home, a police chief liberating the clones; those who seek the singular truth: a reporter uncovering a conspiracy, a curious clone seeking for the truth about her birth, an anxious tribe man investigating the origin of the mountain goddess; those who seek power or money: a doctor poisoning a bounty hunter, a landlord profiting through exploiting slaves, an oil company colluding a nuclear explosion to protect their business, a writer gaining fame from a ruthless murder; and those who love (everyone) and willing to to kill for in the name of love.

No matter if we're born in a tank or a womb, we are all Pureblood.

“No matter if we’re born in a tank or a womb, we are all Pureblood.”

Not only we are born with these forces, we often think that we could control and even outsmart these forces. We even start taking control of something more than ourselves: scientists playing with the law of physics to create nuclear power; ‘archivists’ cloning humans and enforcing cannibalism to sustain them. Our arrogance has blind us from the bigger forces at work, forces that disregard time, race, geography or creed. These forces “begin long before we are born and continue after we perish”. Some call these forces karma, others see them as God-assigned fate. On a less fatalistic note, they are simply forces beyond our control, because the story of our lives are inevitably bound to those that walked the face of the earth long before us, and naturally affects those who come after us.

"But they got somethin' else. A hunger in their hearts, a hunger that's stronger than all their Smart.  A hunger for more."

“But they got somethin’ else. A hunger in their hearts, a hunger that’s stronger than all their Smart. A hunger for more.”

While religion, fate or karma might be there to console us in confronting the forces beyond our control, they are pessimistic and passive. They are not there to transcend us to the next level. Cloud Atlas has offered us another way out: struggle for truth and freedom by Autua, Hae-Joo and Sonmi-451. They showed us that sometimes we need to be at war with fate or karma to realize our innate drives: the pursuit for truth and freedom. Nevertheless, we need the religion or karma to keep us from our destructive arrogant nature, well, maybe with a little flexibility. As Meronym told Zachary: people has been worshipping Sonmi-451 for hundred of years, but in a different way.

What is an ocean but a multitude of drops?

“What is an ocean but a multitude of drops?”

There are many voiceovers in Cloud Atlas, they are wonderfully written story punch line selected from the novel. However I missed many of them as I was processing too many storylines and recognizing the faces… But there was this one that struck me most:

“I understand now that boundaries between noise and sound are conventions. All boundaries are conventions, waiting to be transcended. One may transcend any convention if only one can first conceive of doing so. Moments like this, I can feel your heart beating as clearly as I feel my own, and I know that separation is an illusion. My life extends far beyond the limitations of me.”

We are all just part of an immensely large cast in creating a a timeless, singular human story. Our lives are not our own.