Sooner or later, the Julian Assange/WikiLeaks story will be a major motion picture. It has all of the elements of an edge-of-your-seat thriller: a charismatic leader (with great hair) going up against government corruption, a precipitous fall from grace, a seedy sex angle, and a dramatic last stand. We've assembled a rough cut out of scenes from cinematic classics. To all you aspiring filmmakers who dream of pitching a treatment, take a look at what The Julian Assange Story could be. And thanks in advance for remembering us in your Oscar acceptance speech!
Scene 1: The Birth of a Legend. The story starts with a glimpse of our hero in his heyday, cutting a dodgy, back-alley deal for illicit information onto which he can shine the light of day. Maybe start with Project B, the classified 2007 video showing an Apache gunship crew killing innocent civilians and two journalists in Iraq. Assange releases teh clip, igniting an international debate about the role of the media and the autonomy of military operations. Plenty of people think Assange has gone too far, but just as many believe he has shed light on a subject that needed to be discussed. Need a place to start? Try Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman in All the President's Men.
Scene 2: Introducing the Antagonist. You'll need a villain, of course, someone who represents offical opposition to Assange's efforts. A U.S. military officer would be perfect. The Army doesn't exactly support the killing of civilians, but Wikileaks' release of the Apache video looks like the top of a slippery slope, and the government doesn't want that kind of scrutiny. Clearly, this man must be stopped. So they send someone to take him down. Someone who's dangerous, tenacious, and resilient - a good soldier who has the guts to terminate Assange "with extreme prejudice."
Scene 3: The Doomed Romance. Assange and his wife separated in 1999, which leave plenty of room for a love interest. It's a tragic affair, of course, since our hero is a man of mystery. He's a loner. A . . . rebel? Yeah. A rebel. With awesome hair. The scene would go something like this:
Scene 4: The Set-Up. Assange hits the big time in February 2010, when Wikileaks begins releasing classified communications among the worldwide offices of the U.S. State Dept. You'll need a steely performer to play Hillary Clinton - say, John Travolta in a reprise of his role in Hairspray - who asserts that the leak "puts people's lives in danger, threatens national security and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems." Meanwhile, sexual assault allegations in Sweden further complicate matters. Stand and fight or turn and run? Assange is wanted for a crime he didn't commit, so he evades his would-be captors, hounds at his heels. That scene might go something like this:
Scene 5: Backed Into a Corner. Forced to seek refuge in Ecuador's British embassy, Assange is out of options. The Americans and British, thinking Assange is out of control, are closing their nets and locking him down. The fun times are over. For inspiration, filmmakers might want to look to the the time Riff Raff and Magenta busted up Fran N Furter's pool party: "Frank-N-Furter, it's all over. Your mission is a failure. Your lifestyle's too extreme."
Scene 6: The Nightmare. OK, so Sweden isn't exactly Transylvania. But extradition is extradition. Assange steps to the embassy window to taunt the British, where he spies troops mobilizing to storm the embassy. Bloodshed ensues as the British troops take on Ecuador and, ultimately, Assange and his army of information-wants-to-be-free warriors. It's a good thing, then, that we've already lined up a film about an anti-hero who mocks law enforcement from the safety of a secure tower that has never been breached. It's got a killer soundtrack and some amazing martial arts sequences. (Try to sign up some of these guys - they really know how to do a roundhouse kick.)
Scene 7: The Escape. Is this it for Assange? Of course not. At the last minute, with the troops closing in, he wakes to the sound of rescuers attempting to smuggle him out – perhaps in a shipping container or the trunk of a car. If you think that sounds too crazy to work, check out the trailer for Argo, in which an angry mob chases innocent workers into a friendly diplomatic safe zone and the U.S. government hatches a wacky scheme to being them home.
So there's your movie. You're welcome. Let us know which scenes we've missed!