The Dissident Movie Review
A powerful and disturbing documentary about the power of Saudi Arabia and the lengths the kingdom is willing to go to keep its opponents silenced, The Dissident is, at its core, about the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.
But like many great documentaries, The Dissident is so much more than a reporting of Khashoggi’s final days. Bryan Fogel uses Khashoggi’s violent death as a launching pad to look at Saudi Arabia’s global reach and its efforts to control the narrative. Fogel digs deep, connecting complex dots and presenting those connections in clear, informative ways.
Relying heavily on interviews with Saudi dissident Omar Abdulaziz, The Dissident maps the politics and beliefs of Saudi prince and successor Mohammed bin Salman and how he desires to be projected to the world. More importantly, the movie explores the important battles being waged on social media to control the narrative, among other approaches.
The details surrounding Khashoggi’s murder are disturbing, and Fogel does a fine job bringing the former government employee’s motivations and final days to life in painful, sobering detail. And yet the documentary tackles so much more. From President Trump’s refusal to acknowledge the implications of a U.S. ally killing a journalist (employed by an American paper no less) to the hacking and attempted blackmailing of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (who was in personal contact with bin Salman up until the death of Khashoggi, one of Bezos’ employees), The Dissident is an intense, shocking, and powerful documentary worthy of your attention.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.