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Europe in “Amnesty” and “The Fifth Estate” Films Essay (Movie Review)

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Updated: Apr 13th, 2021

Amnesty

This is a 2011 Albanian film that was directed by Bujar Alimani and produced by Tefta Bajko. It is a short drama film that runs for one hour and twenty-three minutes.

The plot of the Film

Elsa’s husband is imprisoned for gambling debts, leaving her as the family breadwinner. Elsa, unfortunately, loses her job at the factory and spends her days at home, taking care of her two sons and her father-in-law. Soon after, the government enacts a new law to allow couples to visit their partners for conjugal rights. Elsa dutifully performs her role as a wife by frequently visiting her husband. Elsa starts making new friends with time, to kill her boredom. One of her friends has a wedding and asks her to be a witness. Elsa meets Spetim, the other witness at the wedding, whose wife is also imprisoned. Elsa and Spetim become friends who meet monthly during their conjugal rights visits. They are attracted to each other and start off a relationship in which they both find comfort away from their spouses. On the wedding day, Alimani accommodates Elsa for a night since she had missed her bus. The spouses of Elsa and Spetim are not shown throughout the film.

How the Film Characterized Europe

The producer of this film used scenery and the setting to portray pockets of poverty in Europe (the East), despite its economic development status. Elsa travels by bus and cannot even afford a curb when she misses the bus, showing just how poor people on this side of Europe are. The film portrays their homes as small houses with tiny rooms and almost empty kitchens. The residents are poor to such an extent that they are not able to do much shopping. They do not look happy and do not seem to have hope for a better future. The film also depicts high levels of unemployment and the laying-off of workers. Elsa lost her job soon after her husband was arrested and remained jobless throughout the film. People are also jailed for not being able to service their loans (like Spetim’s wife) and gambling (like Elsa’s husband), just to show how poverty levels are high on this side of the continent. Parents are even forced to marry off their daughters to rich suitors just to find some money.

The neatly build pavements and the beautifully manicured lawns, however, portray the residents of this place as tidy and hardworking, even though the economy of the country does not allow them to become wealthy.

The institution of marriage and family is also respected in this continent. Elsa remains very affectionate to her children and her father-in-law, despite the economic challenges. The government also respects citizens’ rights since it allows couples to meet for their conjugal rights.

How the Film Fits With Issues Discussed in Class

The film can be used to illustrate the concept of regions, especially the “East and West”. The events of the film are set in a poor region, most likely the East, and depict just how poor people in this section of Europe are, despite the continent being referred to as developed at the global scale.

Recommendation for Class Viewing

I would strongly recommend this film for our class viewing due to the following reasons. First, the film clearly indicates that criminals have to be punished for the crimes committed. Watching this film would discourage my classmates from committing crimes. Second, the film illustrates how poor people of Eastern Europe are oppressed. This will explain to the viewers the fact that those who we consider the Eastern may be in that situation because circumstances have forced them and not because they are not working hard. Third, the film displays the importance of the institution of marriage and the family. There are no divorces, despite the stress people in this area are subjected to. This teaches the viewers to be patient and persevere even during hard times, hoping for a better tomorrow.

The Fifth Estate

This is a 2013 film directed by Bill Condon and produced by Steve Golin. The film runs for two hours eight minutes.

The plot of the Film

The film starts in 2010, with Afghan war logs. There is then a retrospection to 2007 when journalist Daniel meets a computer expert who has hacking skills, Julian, in Berlin. They begin working together on WikiLeaks, a site that exposes the wrongs of certain companies and government institutions. Their first adventure is a Swiss bank that has been involved in illegal dealings. With time they get famous and are, therefore, motivated to continue. However, their relationship gets strained when Daniel is fired from his job. They argue often and rarely agree on anything. The film shows several flashbacks of Julian’s childhood experiences that might have been traumatizing and led to his obsession with computers. Daniel fears that Julian is a conman, especially when he lies about his hair color and the number of employees in their company. They, however, continue to leak documents, which have vital information, but in collaboration with several newspapers. As it ends, Daniel quits the job, but Julian continues.

How the Film Characterized Europe

The film portrays Europe as a highly developed continent. There are technology and highly sophisticated knowledge about it. There are educated people who can operate such technology as well, meaning that the level of education is good. There is also hacking into secured systems, which can only be done in a developed country.

However, there is the negative aspect of corruption and criminal activities, which is portrayed by the many cases Daniel and Julian reveal to the public through their work on WikiLeaks. Daniel represents people who are willing to risk their lives just to make a positive change by exposing law-breaking activities in Europe.

How the Film Fits With Issues Discussed in Class

Again, the film brings out the concept of regions. The film portrays the “West” side of Europe with its sophisticated technology.

Recommendation for Class Viewing

I would recommend this film as well for our class viewing due to the following reasons. The film shows complex technologies that only learned people can attain. This motivates the students to work hard in school so as to gain the same level of expertise. It also challenges students to be innovative since this is the only way through which they can change the world. The film also shows how companies that have not been transparent in their operations being exposed. This is a good lesson for students since the film shows that no matter how secretive one keeps wrongdoings, they will always get exposed someday.

Comparison and Contrast

The two films are very different. They portray Europe in two different ways but illustrate the concept of regions. In the first film, Europe is seen as a continent with pockets of poor, undeveloped countries (the East) and in the second film, it is seen as a developed and technologically advanced continent (the West). Both films portray corruption and crimes as common phenomena both in the East and the West.

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IvyPanda. (2021, April 13). Europe in “Amnesty” and “The Fifth Estate” Films. https://ivypanda.com/essays/europe-in-amnesty-and-the-fifth-estate-films/

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Europe in “Amnesty” and “The Fifth Estate” Films'. 13 April.

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