I haven't yet seen Oliver Stone's Snowden at TIFF this year — though you can read Bryan Bishop's rather unfavorable review here. Luckily, I don't really have to, thanks to "The Veil," the new original song written by Peter Gabriel for the film's soundtrack, which by all reports, plays over the end credits. Thanks to BuzzFeed's Alison Willmore for the hot tip:
"There's no safe place to go / Now you've let that whistle blow"— Alison Willmore (@alisonwillmore) September 10, 2016
They truly don't make 'em like this anymore, folks. Gabriel deftly describes the actions of Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee turned NSA whistleblower, using a seamless combination of metaphor, simile, and statement of fact. Over a pulsing, prodding beat, Gabriel sings in hushed tones, gently reminding viewers that "information flows." A sampling of some of the lyrical highlights:
Gabriel sets the scene by painting a picture:
Underneath the sky
Where the cold winds cross
There is an ocean where data flows
Then builds upon the "data = water" metaphor by introducing the idea of... yes, that's right, a leak.
Stories start to leak
They color your name
While up above
Cloud turns to rain
Gabriel offers an incisive encapsulation of Snowden's still-controversial legacy...
Some say you’re a patriot
Some call you a spy
An american hero
Or a traitor that deserves to die
...While still being quite clear about what Peter Gabriel believes Snowden ought to do with the data he has access to.
Show exactly what is going on
Show exactly who is looking on
Let it all go
Set it free
"The Veil" has everything you want in a modern movie theme song: primarily information, delivered clearly and completely in a series of leaked dumps. Not too different from what Snowden did himself in 2013 when he exposed the NSA's surveillance programs, come to think of it. I personally can't wait to see "The Veil" put to interpretive dance at the 2017 Academy Awards when it's inevitably nominated for a Best Song Oscar. But even if it doesn't get the nod, it will still be out there, for you to listen to when you want to think about the plot of the movie Snowden. Information flows.