Review: The Trials of Henry Kissinger

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Max Leung, Feb 27, 2003.

  1. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    Synopsis: http://www.calgarymovies.com/movies/...p?id=413110539

    I saw this last night at the University of Calgary campus, in one of the larger lecture halls. It was a one-time showing, and including a book concession displaying the works of Christopher Hitchens (The Trial of Henry Kissinger, The Missionary Position: Mother Theresa in Theory and Practice, etc.) and a few other related books.

    An interesting documentary, and even entertaining in some parts. It follows his long career as a policy analyst, presidential advisor, and later Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense for the United States government during the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s.

    Using archival footage, newspaper clippings, interviews with close associates and his victims, and declassified government documents including CIA communiques, memos and letters, and transcripts of behind-the-door meetings between Nixon and Kissinger, and even congressional hearings, the movie puts together a devastating case that Kissinger was responsible for many of the "crimes against humanity" perpetuated by the governments and geurilla groups he supported clandestinely. Congress were not made aware of many of these operations such as the bombing of Cambodia, the successful plot to assassinate the Chilean military head which opened the door for Pinochet to seize power from the newly-elected government, and the secret peace negotiations with the North Vietnamese that excluded the South Vietnamese (to their anger afterwards). Also touched upon, rather weakly, is his involvement with the East Timor massacres (100,000 civilians were butched by Suharto of Indonesia).

    No question about it, this movie makes the case that Kissinger was a bad man. It doesn't help that Kissinger made the ridiculous statement that Christopher Hitchens was, to paraphrase, "an anti-semitic Holocaust denier". On television! Outrageous!

    Also covered is how Kissinger covered for his secret meetings by playing the media..."dating" famous and beautiful women, and throwing out such quotables as "power is the greatest aphrodisiac". In public and in interviews with his former aides, we are shown that Kissinger was a very clever, well-read, and charismatic man. Even after his aides resigned after the Cambodia/Laos bombings, they still spoke of him in awe for his skills as a diplomat and as a political player. The movie makes the suggestion that Kissinger was using his foreign policy decisions as a means to consolidate his power within the White House. America's interests were just a means to an ends...Kissinger's personal power.

    The movie isn't completely serious however. Former Kissinger aide Alexander Haig got some (unintentional) laughs. His naivete (or practiced cynicism?) comes across very well on the big screen. And the rueful attitudes of his former aides and colleagues came across nicely...they respect him, and noted how they were infected by his charisma, yet at the same time accept the evidence against Kissinger, without the extreme bitterness you'd expect to see in movies like this.

    I quite enjoyed this movie.

    After the show, a panel of two university political science professors and an international human rights lawyer were at hand to make a few statements and take questions from the audience. Interesting stuff was discussed, such as how the U.S. has not ratified any international agreements dealing with the extradition of war criminals. Naturally, Kissinger would be at risk if this happened. [​IMG]

    Note: I came into this movie cold...I had never heard of this movie before, so I had not read any reviews. I am however familiar with some of the policies put forth by Kissinger in the readings I've done in military history. As far as I can tell, all of the information presented in the movie is publically available.
     
  2. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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  3. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    I saw this one at Sundance. I found it fascinating in some parts, rather dull in others. I believe it's going to be 'debuting' on Public TV...?

    (I'm sure I heard someone mention that, but don't quote me.)
     
  4. Brad Porter

    Brad Porter Screenwriter

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    This film will be airing on the Sundance Channel a few times in the next two weeks. I'm recording the Monday showing (10 PM my time on the Pacific feed, check your local listings). Unfortunately, I'm so far behind on watching stored TiVo movies, I may not actually watch it for several more months.

    Brad
     

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