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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 ...
This is not the first time that Matt Smith and Matthew Goode have appeared together on screen. In The Crown (2016) they played brothers-in-law, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Tony Armstrong-Jones (respectively), who were husbands, Queen Elizabeth II and her sister, Princess Margaret. See more »
When Catherine was arrested she was taken to a local police station in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, which was staffed by police wearing Metropolitan Police uniforms (ie from London). The local police are Gloucestershire Constabulary. See more »
Clerk of the Court:
Katharine Teresa Gun, you are charged with an offense 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 »
Beautifully-crafted production with great performances from the cast. It seems pointless regurgitating the plot because it is factual and well-known and, despite any real surprises, the director keeps the tension going. It just shows you can craft thoroughly enjoyable films taking the high moral ground without the ridiculous violence and coy sexuality of most Hollywood offerings. The core of the film is the ethical question of whether state employees act for the people or the government and the latter's privileged cronies and backers. Catherine Gun calls this into question and, despite the UK Government rephrasing the Official Secrets Act, she triumphs because of the duplicity of the then UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and the obvious willingness of the USA to prosecute a patently illegal war with Iraq whatever the United Nations votes or does. The door to neo-liberalism creaks open a bit but then we all know what is behind it.
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