THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN AMERICA: DANIEL ELLSBERG AND THE PENTAGON PAPERS ****1/2
Judith Erlich and Rick Goldsmith’s documentary about Daniel Ellsberg and his decision to leak a vast and damning Top Secret report into the United States’ involvement in the war in Vietnam was nominated for the Best Feature Documentary at this year’s Oscars, and rightly so – it is beautifully made, enormously entertaining and highly informative. Even if you think you know the whole story of Ellsberg, the Pentagon, the Rand Corporation and the White House, you won’t have met Ellsberg as you meet him here – being extesively interviewed, and remaining as charismatic, smart, wry and determined as ever (he’s still getting arrested for causes he believes in). Also, the film features Oval Office recorded conversations between Nixon and Kissenger that are worth the ticket price alone: Nixon is further revealed as being caustic, callous, crude and cruel beyond belief. Because the events are relatively recent history, most of the participants are still around, are interviewed in the film, and are extremely candid – it’s fascinating to see how time and history panning out has made many of them reconsider what they thought was the right way to do things back in the mid-1970s. All round, a terrific film.