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


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Product Details

  • Actors: Daniel Ellsberg, Patricia Ellsberg, Tony Russo, Howard Zinn, Hedrick Smith
  • Directors: Judith Ehrlich, Rick Goldsmith
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen, Closed-captioned
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: First Run Features
  • DVD Release Date: July 20, 2010
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00329PYGQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,444 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Review

CRITIC'S PICK! Riveting! A straight-ahead, enthralling story of moral courage. --David Edelstein, New York Magazine

Gripping! Almost seismic drama... A classic whistleblower tale. --Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

Gripping, evocative... comprehensively detailed... chilling -- and perversely entertaining. --Gary Goldstein, The Los Angeles Times

Product Description

ACADEMY AWARD® NOMINEE-- BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE<BR><BR>{Audience Award -- Best Documentary - 2010 Palm Springs Film Festival} <BR>{Audience Award -- Best Documentary - 2009 Mill Valley Film Festival} <BR>{2009 Toronto International Film Festival} <BR>{2009 Vancouver International Film Festival} <BR>{2009 IDFA Film Festival "In Competition"} <BR><BR>In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg, a high-level Pentagon official and Vietnam War strategist, concludes that the war is based on decades of lies and leaks 7,000 pages of top secret documents to The New York Times, making headlines around the world. Hailed as a hero, vilified as a traitor, and ostracized by even his closest colleagues, Ellsberg risks life in prison to stop a war he helped plan. <BR><BR>This is the riveting story of one man's profound crisis of conscience that shook a nation, its courts, its free press and its presidency to the core. It is also an acutely timely and piercing look at the world of government secrecy in wartime as revealed by the ultimate insider. Marked by a landmark Supreme Court battle between America's greatest newspapers and its president, this political thriller unravels a saga that leads directly to Watergate, Nixon's resignation and the end of the Vietnam War.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 34 customer reviews
I took away SO much from this movie.
Patricia Todd
The documentary tells his story clearly, so that even those born decades after the fact will understand what was at stake, and the vital importance of what he did.
William Timothy Lukeman
It gives an in-depth account of US involvement in Vietnam from the time it was still a French colony to the moment the last US troop left that country.
Camilo Mejia

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Timothy P. Scanlon on February 17, 2010
Format: DVD
Dan Ellsberg, the reader probably knows, is the analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the press during the early 1970s. The Vietnam war had been raging, and all of a sudden the mainstream press had access to secret documents that showed, first, that plans had been in place for invasion of Indochina from the time Truman was in office, and that from Truman on, presidents had been lying to us up to and including the alleged attack of two US ships on the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964 which caused the real explosion of that war.

What many people don't know about Dr. Ellsberg is that he was an officer in the Marine Corps before he went into the academic world, then became a Rand Corp. analyst.

The most interesting element of the film is the process of watching Ellsberg change. He even examined a little of what led him into the Marines, wondering, he thought, whether he could make it. He ended up being the only 1st lieutenant overseeing 211 other Marines in a rifle company. While there, he still seemed to believe in "the system."

Early in the film, it seemed like it may go into a pscho-babble direction, i.e., diagnosing why he did what he did, But that wasn't, fortunately, taken too far. But while working for the system--being part of that system that perpetuated the war-- his conscience began to bother him. He talked with others, notably Tony Russo, who encouraged him to follow his conscience.

The film went from a silhouetted "actor" portraying Ellsberg on the phone, or in discussions with others, to an occasional animation. But the animation wasn't frivolous.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Alfred Johnson on February 8, 2010
Format: DVD
No government really likes a whistle-blower, especially when that person blows the façade off a seemingly until then justified war. There is something in the ethos of Western civilization that, whether the exposure is done for good and without expectations of remuneration or evil, would rather not know the messy details of what goes on in the backrooms and is as likely to `shoot the messenger' as those who created the vast illegality. The word "snitch" comes to mind. However here in this documentary based on the life and times of one Daniel Ellsberg and his brave, no heroic, efforts to get the truth out is well done, well thought out, and worthy of commemoration.

For a younger generation not familiar with the virtual civil war that was going on in American society in the latter stages of the Vietnam War this will serve as a primer, of sorts. Virtually every institution from the local PTA to the White House was subject to analysis and to questioning about the purposes of its existence. Although such intense scrutiny only lasted for a short while it provided enough political space for the previously seemingly non-heroic ex-Marine Daniel Ellsberg to do his expose, for the mainstream mass media, like the "New York Times", "Washington Post", and "The Boston Globe" very connected to the governmental levers of power, to take a chance on publishing the whole of Ellsberg's discoveries. And, frankly, with the partial exception of Watergate there have been very few subsequent efforts like this from inside the establishment.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Timme A. Helzer on April 4, 2010
Format: DVD
Recently, I viewed this film in a Portland, Oregon theatre, with Dr. Ellsberg in person conducting a Q&A session following the film.

Reviewed from any direction, this is an excellent piece of personal reportage. Meticulously researched, truthfully written, realisticly but creatively shot, and marvelously edited, this is a serious and highly responsible documentation, not only of an important period of American history, but also of the broad and deep failure of this generation of leaders in positions of responsibility to "do the right thing." And, it may well be a predictor of what can happen to the future of presidential leadership, if well-informed, highly responsible and conscientious citizens and the mainstream media don't take our roles seriously, and act to preserve the values on which this country was founded.

Timme Helzer, Professor and Consultant
Organizational Leadership and Change
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Todd on January 2, 2011
Format: DVD
I was transfixed by this moving account of Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. If you lived through this era, all of those names flashed repeatedly in the nightly news at the time will come alive to you. If you were born post Pentagon Papers, you can find out about an absolutely pivotal time in the history of the United States. I took away SO much from this movie. It is a fascinating, riveting portrayal of the events and issues of that time.

But, more importantly, it shows how this man, Daniel Ellsberg, evolved. Mr. Ellsberg reveals, in a very personal, raw narrative of how he came to make this profound, dramatic turn. The culture of denial, cover-up and delusion became undeniably apparent. He stated, "it wasn't that we were on the wrong side, we were the wrong side." He teaches us, through his experience, without being preachy, not only to question authority, but to question ourselves. To face reality, and act responsibly, even if this means facing disdain and contempt, losing your career, and indeed, your very freedom.

The documentary also elucidates the role of Randy Kehler, a war resister, in his dramatic influence on Daniel Ellsberg. We had never heard much about him. One person really can make a difference. Even if he or she is not famous, or in "high places".

I am tempted to say this movie ripped my heart out. And it did. But it also reached in, very deep, and grabbed my conscience.
The messages in this documentary will stay with me forever. This man's bravery and courage continues today as he speaks out when it is not popular. I feel like I know him now. Thank you Daniel Ellsberg. And thank you to your late, bold, daring "partner in crime", Anthony Russo. I can still hear your whistles blowing.
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