erik lundegaard

What's Up with the IMDb Rating of the WikiLeaks Documentary 'We Steal Secrets'?

I never rate movies on Netflix or IMDb or anywhere else. I think it's pointless—it's just a number—but more importantly I don't want to give away that shit for free. Instead I write about it in detail and give it away for free here. Which has the advantage of being here.

But last week on IMDb I rated Alex Gibney’s latest documentary, “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks.” Why? This is why. It’s a screenshot of the doc’s IMDb page from last week. What’s wrong with this picture?

WikiLeaks doc on rating

The doc has a 4.3 rating. How bad is 4.3 in the IMDb universe? “Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance” has a 4.4 rating. 

Is “We Steal Secrets” that bad? Not nearly. In my movie-reviewing days at The Seattle Times, I would’ve given it four out of four stars. I keep recommending to people. I recommend it to you now. Here's my review.

So why the low rating? I assume WikiLeaks' supporters are voting early and often against the doc without having seen it. The doc has the temerity to take a nuanced approach to Julian Assange. It suggests that what began with a demand for openness has become a closed society. It tells a tragic tale. The IMDb rating may be part of that tragic tale. What better way to suppress information than to imply it's no good?

A few days ago, out of the blue, I received this odd tweet:

I checked out the links above but couldn't get past the defensiveness. One of the first complaints: “The premiere of 'We Steal Secrets' is opportunistically timed” — I.e., near the Bradley Manning trial. Right. Because distribution companies usually try to open their films unopportunistically. They never take advantage of, say, the holidays or summer vacation.

This line is worse: “The film portrays Manning’s alleged acts as failure of character rather than a triumph of conscience.” Not my read at all. If the doc has sympathy for any of its three main players—Manning, Assange, and Adrian Lamo—it's for Manning. From my review last week:

But it wasn’t until Pvt. Bradley Manning, a nice, fucked-up kid from Oklahoma, who was stationed in Iraq and wondered what to do about the confidential—and to him, immoral—information he had access to, that we all knew Assange’s name.

If WikiLeaks has serious complaints about Alex Gibney's doc, then it needs to focus on them. But focus has never been WikiLeaks' strong suit. They've always been about TMI.

This was the IMDb page of “We Steal Secrets” this morning:

IMDb rating of "We Steal Secrets": May 27, 2013

Don't believe the negative hype.

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Posted at 07:36 AM on Mon. May 27, 2013 in category Movies - Documentaries  


Arbed wrote:

You really should read the annotated transcript of this film which Wikileaks has leaked down as far as the note that proves the torn condom handed in to police by the woman interviewed by Alex Gibney has no DNA on it. That's what convinced me that Alex Gibney's film is a deliberate smear campaign, because if he shows a picture of that condom from the police forensic file then he KNOWS about there being no DNA at all on it.

Lots of other evidence supplied by Wikileaks in those notes which PROVE there are lies told in this film, dressed up with fancy animation and a feel-good soundtrack. Anyone who can't be bothered to actually read those evidence notes is obviously someone who doesn't mind being fooled.

Comment posted on Tue. May 28, 2013 at 03:20 AM

Cal wrote:

The comment above nails it with “You really should read the annotated transcript of this film”.

I definitely think that the online community respects a good documentary. That being said, this is not a good documentary. It's full of spin, speculation, 'plot holes', and flat-out lies.

It's truly disappointing to see such a respectful director stoop to such childish tactics.

Comment posted on Thu. Jun 06, 2013 at 07:10 AM
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