The true story of a British whistleblower who leaked information to the press about an illegal NSA spy operation designed to push the UN Security Council into sanctioning the 2003 invasion of Iraq.


Gavin Hood
2,289 ( 419)
5 wins & 16 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Keira Knightley ... Katharine Gun
Matt Smith ... Martin Bright
Matthew Goode ... Peter Beaumont
Rhys Ifans ... Ed Vulliamy
Adam Bakri ... Yasar Gun
Ralph Fiennes ... Ben Emmerson
Conleth Hill ... Roger Alton
Indira Varma ... Shami Chakrabarti
Jeremy Northam ... Ken Macdonald
John Heffernan ... James Welch
Monica Dolan ... Fiona Bygate
Tamsin Greig ... Elizabeth Wilmshurst
Niccy Lin ... Mi-Yung
Jack Farthing ... Andy Dumfries
Gabrielle Downey Gabrielle Downey ... Mrs. Archer


A morality tale for the 21st century, Official Secrets tells the true story of British Intelligence whistle-blower Katharine Gun who, during the immediate run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, leaked a top secret NSA memo exposing a joint US-UK illegal spying operation against members of the UN Security Council. The memo proposed blackmailing smaller, undecided member states into voting for war. At great personal and professional risk, journalist Martin Bright published the leaked document in The Observer newspaper in London, and the story made headlines around the world. Members of the Security Council were outraged and any chance of a UN resolution in favour of war collapsed. But within days, Bush declared he no longer needed UN backing and invaded anyway. As Iraq descended into chaos, Katharine was arrested and charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act. Martin faced potential charges too. Their legal battles exposed the highest levels of government in both London and Washington ...

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The Truth is Always the First Casualty of War See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

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Did You Know?


During the time that the U.S. was pushing for war with Iraq it was widely reported in the U.S. press that the British had experience dealing with the Iraqi informant who was providing the Americans with the intelligence they were relying on. The British affirmed that none of the information he provided to them over a period of several years had turned out to be true. After being rejected by the British, the informant began selling information direct to the Americans. Reportedly, the man had received close to $100,000 in cash over the previous few years for his reports to the British and Americans; information that provided a strong motive for generating false intelligence. After the invasion and occupation it was proven that all of his information was indeed false. See more »


When Katharine enters the office at the office at 04:10 she places a pastry onto some sort of equipment. She then gives some to her colleague and puts it back on the equipment. From there it just vanishes and appears at 05:10. See more »


[first lines]
Clerk of the Court: Katharine Teresa Gun, you are charged with an offence contrary to section 1, subsection 1, of the Official Secrets Act of 1989, in that you did knowingly and intentionally disclose top-secret intelligence information contrary to the said act. How do you plead? Guilty or not guilty?
See more »

User Reviews

Kiera Knightley's powerful performance carries the movie
14 September 2019 | by paul-allaerSee all my reviews

"Official Secrets" (2019 release from the UK; 112 minutes) brings the story "based on actual events" we are reminded, of British whisleblower Katharine Gun. As the movie opens, it is "25 February 2004, London", and Gun is appearing in court. "As to the charge regarding the Official Secrets Act, do you please guilty or no guilty?, the court asks her. We then go "One Year Earlier, Cheltenham", as we get to know Gun, as she is watching Tony Blair on TV making the case for the war on Iraq. She works a the Government Communications Headquarters. Gun happens to get some very sensitive information regarding attempts to influence the votes of certain members of the UN Security Council. Gun is very upset and decides to leak the information... At this point we are 15 min. into the movie but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see fort yourself how it all p[lays out.

Couple of comments: the movie is directed by veteran South African director (and co-writer) Gavin Hood ("X-Men Origins: Wolverine"). Here he brings the real life story of what happened to Katharine Gun. As we all know at this point, the Bush administration outright lied and manipulated the data so as to make the case for invading Iraq. The Blair administration wasn't much better. The movie is hence on the right side of the truth, but of course that is easy to do with 20/20 hindsight. Apart from the whistleblower case, the movie also brings to the front what happened at the Observer, the British newspaper that published the sensitive data. I quite enjoyed it all, and not only because I couldn't wait to find out how it would all end for Gun. Kiera Knightly plays Katharine Gun, and she plays it with passion and with determination. She is an absolute delight to watch her carry this movie on her shoulders. Ralph Fiennes is equally up to the task (as the non-profit lawyer representing Gun).

"Official Secrets" premiered to positive acclaim at this year's Sundance Film Festival. The movie opened on 2 or 3 screens in all of Greater Cincinnati this weekend. The Saturday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended very nicely (about 25 people). If you have any interest in whisleblower cases or how the US and UK administration misled the public about the war in Iraq, I'd readily suggest you check out "Official Secrets", be it in the theater, on VOD or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.

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Release Date:

30 August 2019 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Official Secrets See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$64,965, 1 September 2019

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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