As the current home of the real Edward Snowden, Russia is a key part of the story of the man who leaked classified material regarding American government surveillance. Apparently, this means they get to see an extended version of the film based on those events. The version of Snowden released in Russia is four minutes longer than what North America will see. For what it's worth, the Kremlin apparently loves it.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin has called Oliver Stone's Snowden "top quality" and "nearly a documentary," which is high praise. The film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Edward Snowden, a former NSA analyst who leaked classified information online in order to show the severity of the U.S. government's surveillance practices. H has lived in Russia since the summer of 2013 after escaping there in order to avoid charges under the Espionage Act.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the version of Snowden that begins screening in Russia today is actually four minutes longer than the domestic version, although, exactly what is in those four minutes has not yet been revealed. Luckily, because the internet exists, once both versions have screened for the public we'll likely get our answer.
Hearing Russian officials praising Snowden is hardly surprising. The U.S. and Russian governments don't exactly get along, and whatever you think of the actions of Edward Snowden, it's clear that Oliver Stone views him as a hero fighting against government overreach. The movie surely gives the current administration a black eye and Russia is likely ok with that.
While four minutes is not a lot of time, it's still interesting that the Russian version of Snowden will be longer. Usually, when we hear of other countries getting different cuts of a film, it's because they've sold extra product placement in China, or something similar. It could certainly be something like that happening here, but the idea that it could be a more controversial scene has to be considered. Is there a scene that's extra critical of the US, or extra supportive of Russia, something that simply wouldn't play well here but will likely be accepted there? We do know that there's one scene at the end of the film (it's a bit of a spoiler so we won't go into detail) that will likely have all audiences talking in both countries. If that particular scene is any longer in Russia, we're very interested to know what happens.
Whether or not Snowden is "nearly a documentary" will likely be a subject of debate. The movie is destined to be controversial. Whether or not it's any good as a film may very likely get lost in the political spin. Will you be checking out Snowden? The long-delayed feature hits theaters Friday.