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Sex, lies and WikiLeaks: ‘The Fifth Estate’ trailer released online

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The first trailer for the hotly anticipated WikiLeaks thriller stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange, and Daniel Bruhl as his former compadre Daniel Domscheit-Berg

It has been condemned by Julian Assange himself as a “massive propaganda attack on WikiLeaks and the character of my staff”, yet the first trailer for The Fifth Estate suggests an even-handed political thriller which sits halfway between indictment and eulogy.

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Featuring Britain’s Benedict Cumberbatch as a floppy-fringed, youthful Assange with the air of an Aussie Bond villain, Bill Condon’s film also stars Goodbye Lenin’s Daniel Bruhl as former WikiLeaks spokesman Daniel Domscheit-Berg. It has been adapted by The West Wing’s Josh Singer from Domscheit-Berg’s book Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website, as well as Guardian writers David Leigh and Luke Harding’s WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy.

The trailer offers up a blitzkrieg of snapshots from Assange’s path out of obscurity, yet seems to oscillate between celebrating its subject’s bravery and condemning his narcissism. One confidant tells him: “If we’d had someone like you, the Berlin wall would have come down years before.” On the other hand, Domscheit-Berg screams: “It’s just you and your ego – and the lies you tell to get whatever you want!” Scenes of horrified US politicians and aides (Anthony Mackie, Laura Linney) are contrasted with a shadowy shot of Assange seducing a paramour.

The official synopsis from producing studio Dreamworks reads: “Through the eyes of Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Bruhl), an early supporter and eventual colleague of Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch), the film follows the heady, early days of WikiLeaks to its abrupt end after a series of controversial and history changing info leaks.”

“The website’s overnight success brought instant fame to its principal architects, but as their power expanded across the globe, Daniel grew increasingly disillusioned with Julian’s questionable tactics and ethics. The rift between the two friends became irreparable and their ideological differences tore them apart, but not before they revolutionised, for better and worse, the flow of information to news media and the world at large.”

The Fifth Estate is being primed for an October release in the US, timing that suggests an Oscars run in 2014. It is being compared to The Social Network, another awards season favourite by a West Wing writer about a controversial figure, which won Aaron Sorkin the Oscar for best screenplay. The film will also be released in the UK this year but does not yet have a release date in Assange’s native Australia.

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© Guardian News and Media 2013

Watch the official trailer below, via YouTube:

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