We previously reported that Oliver Stone (JFK, Natural Born Killers) had gotten the ball rolling on an untitled adaptation of Luke Harding’s The Snowden Files, which tells the story of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden as he’s hunted by the U.S. government after leaking information about the organization’s invasive spying techniques. Now that Stone, also directing, has sat down and began to write the screenplay, however, he’s turned to another popular book that will help him in plotting out the story: Anatoly Kucherena’s novel Time of the Octopus.
Though the book itself is fictional, the author’s close ties to Snowden – Kucherena was the whistleblower’s Russian lawyer – inspired him to write Time of the Octopus. He recently said as much in an official statement, explaining:
“The more I engaged in the Edward Snowden case, the more I was impressed by his story. To understand Edward and his actions, I had to ‘tune to his wavelength’ and try to balance between the rational and intuitive perception of his world. Having experienced these incredible sensations, I realized that I had to write about them, but only in the form of a novel that would not claim any sophisticated philosophical conclusions.”
Time of the Octopus centers on an American whistleblower named Joshua Cold who, while waiting on a request for asylum in Russia and attempting to avoid being deported back to his country of origin, spends an agonizing three weeks in limbo at a Russia airport. As he waits, Cold tells his life story to a Russian lawyer and begins to explain his motivations for exposing a huge government surveillance program. The parallels to Snowden are fairly obvious.
Stone released an official statement after securing the option rights for Time of the Octopus, noting:
“Anatoly has written a ‘grand inquisitor’ style Russian novel weighing the soul of his fictional whistleblower, Joshua Cold, against the gravity of a ‘1984’ tyranny that has achieved global proportions. His meditations on the meaning of totalitarian power in the 21st century make for a chilling, prescient horror story.”
Expect more news about Stone’s untitled Snowden film soon, as the director’s producing partner Moritz Borman is pushing for production to start later this year.