In 1971, the New York Times ran a story on what came to be known as the Pentagon Papers, top-secret documents that exposed many eyebrow-raising details on the game that started the Vietnam War and what went on as the war played out during the ’60s. The man who smuggled the documents out of the Defense Department was Daniel Ellsberg, a former Pentagon employee and believer in the war, who changed his mind and wanted the public to understand the realities of the military venture. Ellsberg is a charismatic person who tells his story well and this documentary does not shy away from the negative aspects of his actions. A fascinating presentation of the complexities of the First Amendment, where Nixon (on tape) is a terrific bogeyman.
2010-U.S. 92 min. Color. Produced and directed by Judith Ehrlich, Rick Goldsmith. Screenplay: Lawrence Lerew, Rick Goldsmith, Judith Ehrlich, Michael Chandler.
Last word: “On the one hand, [Ehrlich and I] were a mis-matched partnership because we had such different approaches to filmmaking and to our work in general. On the other hand, neither one of us could get away with anything that was just ‘pretty good’, because everything we did had to pass muster with our fellow co-director and co-producer. In other words, there was a way in which the tension between us set the bar of excellence very high, and we either reached that bar (in any given scene, or to overcome any given disagreement) or we went back to the drawing board.” (Goldsmith, Filmint.)