The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (2009)

most dangerous man in america daniel ellsberg and the pentagon papers poster 2009 documentary
9.0 Overall Score

Pretty balanced look at the Pentagon Papers

Nothing

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:   The Most Dangerous Man in America:  Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers

Studio:   Kovno Communications

Genre(s):   Documentary

Release Date(s):   September 11, 2009) (Toronto International Film Festival)/February 5, 2010 (US)

MPAA Rating:   Not Rated

most dangerous man in america daniel ellsberg and the pentagon papers wife

Hero or Anti-Patriot?

Daniel Ellsberg had a secret.  He knew what the government was saying about the war in Vietnam and how they believed the war was unwinnable…despite continued bombing, young soldiers dying, and attacks on protesters who fought against it.  Ellsberg made a decision.  He was going to face jail time, but he was also going to make a difference by releasing classified documents to the press…leading to firefight about press versus the government that still affects the world today.

Directed by Judith Elrlich and Rick Goldsmith, The Most Dangerous Man in America:  Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers is a documentary looking at the events surrounding the release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971.  The documentary was released at Toronto International Film Festival and aired on the PBS series POV on October 5, 2010.  The documentary was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

most dangerous man in america daniel ellsberg and the pentagon papers dick cavett show

Dick Cavett cuts to the chase!

With the political climate in the United States changing, there is a renewed interest in the story of the Pentagon Papers and the battle of the United States against the press.  The release of Steven Spielberg’s The Post, I decided to revisit the documentary on the Pentagon Papers…and it was a good look at a crisis in America.

The movie doesn’t really shy away from the big question of the legality of the whole situation and gets there primarily through interviews and news clips.  Ellsberg pleads his case and tells why he chose to release secret documents, but I know that there are those (despite the outcome and the contents of the Pentagon Papers) who believe that he shouldn’t have done it and that he is a traitor.  Nothing will change their minds in that fact.

This reflects back on today’s political status and where we are now as a society.  The press and the politicians are once again on opposite sides and you occasionally have “defectors” that switch sides.  The Pentagon Papers represent one of the initial big showdowns between the two groups and the mistakes and positives that came from it.

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I could listen to bitching Nixon tapes for hours

When you often consider “the government” you think of it as a big conglomerate with no one really making the calls, but the movie does a good job of showing that Nixon was more hands on than you might think.  He was affected by the Pentagon Papers and the release of his tapes show what type of effect that Ellsberg directly had on him…and it is shocking to hear him speak so bluntly.

One of the more interesting aspects of the documentary is that the Pentagon Papers didn’t have the explosive aspect that Ellsberg hoped.  The world didn’t stop the war, and the war continued for years after the release.  Nixon was reelected and more and more people died.  While this was the case, Ellsberg help draw a line in the sand that is still being debated today (maybe more than ever).   Daniel Ellsberg…hero or anti-Patriot?  You decide.

Related Links:

The Post (2017)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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