30 Day Movie Challenge: Day 14: Favourite documentary

27 06 2011

Those who read my blog know that I have my own category dedicated to documentaries, so picking one out of everything I’ve seen was difficult.  My first thought was something from Michael Moore, either Fahrenheit 9/11 or Bowling For Columbine as they are up there on my list of favourite docs.  But I had to go with the truly affecting Hearts and Minds.

I think part of the reason Hearts and Minds was more affecting for me was because I was learning about the Vietnam War in my History class so I was better able to grasp everyone involved and the background of how it all developed.  There’s a scene in the film that really disturbs me: a solider is in the street in Vietnam and he shoots a man in the head.  As the man collapses on the ground, blood releases from his head like a fountain, and at the time, I was in so much shock because I had seen this happen in Hollywood movies before but this was real — a man just got shot in the head.  There was no special effects, no pouch of blood exploding.  It was all real.  This was reality.

It still haunts me today.  Reality is horrific.  Take a lesson from that, modern horror movie makers.

Saturday Morning Documentary: Storyville: The Most Dangerous Man in America

7 11 2010

When one thinks of the most dangerous man in America, maybe a serial killer would come to the mind.  Or a rapist.  Or even the president.  But how about Daniel Ellsberg?  Never heard of him?

“It was the evening of October 1st, 1969, when I first smuggled several hundred pages of top secret documents out of my safe at the Rand Corporation”.  The film starts off with this quote, said by Ellsberg.  We first learn Daniel started off working in the Pentagon at the very start of the Vietnam War and became one of the planners of the war that would eventually become one the American people would rebel against.  But in the beginning, people supported it, believing it was the right thing to do.  Ellsberg thought this as well.

Eventually, we realized there was no end in sight, that the US was fighting a losing battle and that if they did not pull out troops, more men would be dying.  As government officials continued to lie to the American public, Ellsberg knew he had to get the truth out there to everyone, that only public support would help end the war.

And so he stole and photocopied classified information and gave them to national newspapers across the country to publish.  One by one, the government under President Nixon suspended printing from these chains only to find another newspaper somewhere else in the country had printed more.  Meanwhile, the FBI is out looking for Ellsberg as he tries to stay out of their path.

The Most Dangerous Man in America is a great production and dramatization of an issue I knew nothing about, which only shows how much more accessible and engaging to a viewer who knows barely anything about the Vietnam War aside from where it took place (yes, cue the boos).  With interviews from Ellsberg, his wife, friends and associates and lots and lots of archival footage, Storyville succeeds in getting across one man’s desperate attempts to engage the American public and to question the goverment and their uncaring attitudes even when the truth was revealed — something that is still obviously applicable today.


Daniel Ellsberg