Take Me To The River on Blu-ray & DVD Feb 5Phantom From 10,000 Leagues (1956) on Blu-ray & DVD Jan 5Condemned on DVD & Blu-ray Jan 5Broad City: Season 2 on DVD Jan 5McHale's Navy: The Complete Series on DVD No 17Return to Sender on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 29The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Jennifer Esposito Is Your Newest NCIS Agent in Season 1...
Critics Are Split on Ghostbusters Reboot ...
'Respect is key': The Game, Snoop Dogg lead march to LA...
Kristen Stewart's Sheer Dress At 'Equals' Premiere -- S...
"A Slow Slipping Away"-- Kris Kristofferson's Long-Undi...
Fox News' Roger Ailes Sued for Sexual Harassment by Ous...
Garrison Keillor Retires from 'Prairie Home Companion' ...
Jennifer Aniston is Pregnant: Star Steps Out in Loose D...
Hiddleswift Is One Big Song Promotion -- A Theory...
Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie Presley files for ...

Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif

Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers

Studio: First Run Features
Year: 2009
Cast: Daniel Ellsberg, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Howard Zinn, John Dean
Director: Judith Ehrlich, Rick Goldsmith
Release Date: July 20, 2010
Rating: Not Rated for
Run Time: 01h:33m:39s
Genre(s): documentary

"It wasn't that we were on the wrong side—we were the wrong side." - Daniel Ellsberg, about working for Robert McNamara


Buy Now @ Amazon


Wear your presence on Richard Nixon's enemies list as a badge of honor.

Movie Grade: A-

DVD Grade: B

With Robert Gibbs as the latest in a long line of White House sources from every single Administration to bemoan leaks—most recently to Wikileaks, about the conduct of the war in Afghanistan—Daniel Ellsberg seems more and more like the patron saint of our time. This documentary is frankly partial to him, and that's a good thing; it pungently re-creates Ellsberg's historical moment, and one can't help but draw comparisons to wars conducted far away and on fraudulent pretexts in our own time.

What's especially striking, as Ellsberg and the filmmakers tell his story, is how it has all the classic trappings of a religious conversion or epiphany. We see him as a younger man, a combat veteran and a quick study, working for the Department of Defense during the Johnson years—he's one of the foremost proponents of the war in Vietnam, and he sets about cherrypicking the intelligence from the field to justify in the public imagination (and to Congress) the President's desire to ratchet up the combat. (He's completely getting his David Addington on, and it's kind of terrifying.) The film uses recent interview footage and voice-over from Ellsberg, and cobbles together what it can from the archives—there are a couple of missteps, I think, with an actor used to re-create some scenes, and even a couple of brief forays into animation. (!) But you can understand why directors Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith thought this was necessary—you're just not going to find a lot of stock footage of guys xeroxing and smuggling out thousands of pages of documents.

Ellsberg's second wife, Patricia, functions almost as his conscience—she was an ardent anti-war activist, and their courtship has a politically informed Mad Men sort of air to it, with copious cocktails and handing out leaflets. Ellsberg goes to work for the RAND Corporation, in Santa Monica, and revels in his insider's knowledge; but when he sees the carnage of the war in Vietnam, he decides it's time for the battle to be joined.

And so he surreptitiously photocopies an epic report prepared at RAND about the history of American involvement in Southeast Asia, volumes that drive home the fundamental point that the war is misguided, and unwinnable, and that LBJ and the men around him know it. He gets copies to the New York Times, and makes legal history when the Supreme Court refuses the Nixon Administration's request to prevent the publication of these Pentagon Papers; it also puts Ellsberg's in RN's crosshairs, landing him on the famed enemies list, and leading to dirty tricks like breaking into Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office to try and dig up some dirt on him. The movie suggests that there's a direct line from Ellsberg's bravery to Watergate—obviously it's more complicated than that, but you can see the seeds being sown, especially when Nixon refers to Ellsberg and Vietnam, "that shit-ass little country." (And the title of the film comes from a description of Ellsberg by Henry Kissinger.)

It's also a chance to revisit or to discover some of the notable characters of the period: Mike Gravel when he was a swashbuckling Senator, and not just a cranky fringe Presidential candidate; John Dean, on his journey from White House weasel to eminence grise; Neil Sheehan, recipient of the papers, a Times reporter before writing maybe the best book ever about Vietnam (A Bright Shining Lie). And this is what makes the small package of extras kind of inexplicable—the two featurettes are interviews with actor Woody Harrelson, and writer Naomi Wolf. They both speak to Ellsberg's bravery—Harrelson calls him a hero, and Wolf contrasts his behavior to the ostrich-like denial around torture at Guantanamo Bay—but there's nothing here that's first hand. There are also excerpts from Nixon White House tapes (including some of the greatest hits, like Dean's "cancer on the presidency" aria), links to Ellsberg's blog, brief filmmaker bios, and trailers for four other First Run DVD releases.

Posted by: Jon Danziger - September 2, 2010, 11:19 am - DVD Review
Keywords: documentary, vietnam, nixon, ellsberg

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90


Microsoft Store


television, jennifer esposito, blue bloods, ncis, mark harmon. duane henry, wilmer valderrama, michael weatherly, bull, movie, ghostbusters, comedy, chris helmsworth, melissa mcarthy, kristen wiig, celebrity, rap, game, shoop dogg, jayceon terrell taylor, alton sterling, kristen stewart, equals, jonathan simkhal, nicholas hoult, music, kris kristofferson, country music hall of fame, alzheimers, lyme disease, fox news, gretchen carlson, fox and friends, steve doocy, roger ailes, the real story with gretchen carlson, radio, garrison keillor, a prairie home companion, jennifer anniston, baby bump, justin theroux, taylor swift, tom hiddleston, calvin harris, lisa marie presley, michael lockwood, riley and benjamin keough, danny keough, michael jackson, nicolas cage, tom affleck, boston fan, bill simmons, hbo show, any given wednesday, tom brady, deflategate, hamilton, lin-manuel mianda, periscope, heart tweet machine, hamilton mixtape, cable, hbo, curb your enthusiasm, larry david, bernie sanders, saturday night live, maya and marty, christina grimmie, murdered, plaza live, before you exit, marcus grimmie, nashville, cmt, president brian phillips, the tonight show, jimmy fallon, president obama, the roots, hillary clinton, tim mcgraw, faith hill, maggie mcgraw, humble and kind, ellen degeneres show, titi pierce, coldwell banker robbins & free realty, hairspray live!, tracy turnblad, york theatre company, john waters, jennifer hudson, harvey fierstein, martin short, derek hough, j.k. rowling, harry potter and the cursed child, noma dumezweni, emma watson, judd apatow, paul freig, melissa mccarthy, romance, history channel, roots, remake, anika noni rose, t.i., malachi kirby, josh duhamel, transformers, fergie, black eyed peas, axl, double dutchess, abc, music city, grand ole opry, chip esten, lennon stella, the voice, alisan porterm, christina aguilera, ceelo green, ariana grande, sia, the little big town, 2016 billboard music awards, pink, just like fire, pamela neal, warrior princess, send my love (to your new lover), billboard music awards, adele, patrick daughters, bryan cranston, lbj, all the way, melissa leo, frank langella, todd weeks, hard sell, kristin chenoweth, wicked

On Facebook!
Promote Your Page Too



Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store