'Silk Road'by director Tiller Russell has just been released and can be seen from 19 February 2021. A dramatization of the rise and fall of drug lord Ross Ulbricht on the Dark Web - opens with a tremendous caveat: 'This story is true. Except for what we made up or changed. OK!
This fact-based cyber thriller starts in a branch of the San Francisco Public Library in 2013. As Ross W. Ulbricht - the founder of an online marketplace called Silk Road, where illegal drugs were bought and sold - explains actor Nick Robinson: in voiceover, a bold anti-authoritarian sentiment.
Silk Road from a 2014 article in Rolling Stone
As quoted in the Rolling Stone article from 2014 by David Kushner, to which the film has been adapted. He's talking about creating an online marketplace - the Silk Road website, an “Amazon for drugs” - where people can buy and sell things anonymously, free from the barriers of “the state”. He mentions “the insurmountable barrier between the world as it is and the world as I want it”, and how his project was about “taking back our freedom”. The ultimate philosophical thought towards a free world.
Interesting is the role of a DEA agent who was sentenced to six years in prison for stealing bitcoin during the investigation. The Rolling Stone article makes no mention of this agent, but for dramatic purposes, Russell, who adapted the screenplay, created the character of disgraced, over-the-hill cop Rick Bowden (Jason Clarke), downgraded to cybercrime after a unfortunate incident in Puerto Rico and a period in rehab. It adds a little more excitement to Ulbricht's cat and mouse research.
There is a certain respect or reverence for Ulbricht in the film, which at times almost seems to be a co-signing of his beliefs about ultimate freedom. This while his experiment on the black market ended in violence and imprisonment.
Indeed it remains a juicy entertainment story to a truth full of drugs and cyber murders, but you may wonder why he is given such a biographical film of his own.