Echelon: The Secret Power | Chicago Reader

Echelon: The Secret Power

A creepily effective French documentary by David Korn-Brzoza (2002, 82 min.) about the international surveillance networks that have proliferated since the mid-1940s, featuring interviews with former spies from Canada, England, New Zealand, and the U.S. With its cloak-and-dagger music, percussive electronic signals, jazzy computer graphics, and deft split-screen effects in 'Scope, this film sometimes seems to enjoy the terrifying visions it illustrates. But I couldn't tear my eyes from the screen, and some of the epigrams are memorable (“Too much power can be synonymous with loss of control”; “Everyone's at it, so you can't denounce your neighbors”). Understandably, American snooping gets the most attention, though the French aren't excluded—might one concoct a paranoid scenario explaining why Australia gets so little play? In English and French with subtitles.

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