In investigating Daniel Ellsberg's famous decision to release classified government files concerning the Vietnam War to the press, filmmakers Judith Erlich and Rick Goldsmith have created a compelling and well-researched documentary that is part psychological drama and part political thriller, and all together inspiring.
An Important Chapter in American History
Daniel Ellsberg, a high-level Pentagon official and brilliant war strategist, had built his career by helping to plan the Vietnam War. In 1971, however, he faced a crisis of conscience. Realizing that the the war was based on decades of lies and the government's misrepresentations to the American public, Ellsberg decided to leak 7,000 pages of top secret classified documents to The New York Times. There were immediate ramifications: Ellsberg faced the possibility of life imprisonment, issues of First Amendment rights echoed through the courts, and the American presidency's credibility and authority were severely shaken.
This is the extremely important chapter in American history that directly precedes Watergate, Richard Nixon's resignation and the end of the Vietnam War.
As protagonist in his own life and in this documentary about his life, Ellsberg epitomizes the character of the righteous citizen who's willing to risk his personal success and well being to assume responsibility for the greater good of society. He changed the course of history.
Ellsberg is a hero. And, heroes are always greatly engaging subjects for movies, be they documentaries or narrative features.
The point of view presented by Erlich and Goldsmith is respectably balanced. The portrait they paint of Ellsberg shows all of his character complexities and wrinkles. There is no pandering to political interests or positions. Which is what makes the film and its subject all the more compelling.
A Tale That's Timely Told
Most Dangerous Man In America on DVDFirst Run Features
The film's revelations about how the US government operated in realms of secrecy and deceit some thirty years ago during the Vietnam War are relevant to considerations of how our current government is behaving with regard to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ellsberg is, wrinkles and complexities and all, an inspiration for us to speak up, stand up and take action to right the wrongs we know about when they are undermining our social, political and civic well being.
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- The Most Dangerous Man In America
- Directors: Judith Erlich and Rick Goldsmith
- Release Date: September, 2009<
- Running Time: 92 mins.
- Parental Advisory: Content advisory for parents
- Country: USA
- Language: English
- Distribution Company: First Run Features