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The Trials of Henry Kissinger

  NR Closed Captioning

Alex Gibney & Eugene Jarecki

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Plot Summary

Is Henry Kissinger, Nobel Laureate and the most famous diplomat of his generation, also a war criminal? Provoked by the Christopher Hitchens book (The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Verso, 2001), filmmakers Eugene Jarecki and Alex Gibney construct a documentary that is both brilliant legal brief and chilling psycho-drama. Confronting the charges that Kissinger undermined LBJ’s Vietnam peace talks (in order that Nixon be elected), engineered the secret bombing of Cambodia, orchestrated the coup that toppled Chilean President Allende, and approved Indonesia’s use of U.S. arms to massacre 100,000 East Timorese, The Trials of Henry Kissinger explores how a young boy who fled Nazi Germany grew up to become one of the most powerful men in U.S. history. The Trials of Henry Kissinger also tackles the question of whether principles of international law applied by Americans to their enemies are also applicable to Americans ¾ or whether such laws are only written for the losers of conflicts. The film caused a sensation when it played at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in 2002 and was a national hit in its 2003 theatrical run. Featuring previously unseen footage, newly declassified government documents, and revealing interviews with both ardent Kissinger supporters such as Alexander Haig, Brent Scowcroft and William Safire, and detractors like Seymour Hersh, William Shawcross, and Christopher Hitchens, The Trials of Henry Kissinger is “a movie that informs and fascinates – truly stranger than fiction.” (Newsday)

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews

TOMATOMETER

95%
  • Reviews Counted: 58
  • Fresh: 55
  • Rotten: 3
  • Average Rating: 7.2/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: Watching this film, one is left with the inescapable conclusion that Hitchens' obsession with Kissinger is, at bottom, a sophisticated flower child's desire to purge the world of the tooth and claw of human power. – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly, Sep 7, 2011

Fresh: Deploying a seamless blend of talking-head interviews, trenchant archival photographs and newsreels, topped off by a sheaf of newly declassified U.S. government documents, Gibney and Jarecki are smart enough to let the evidence and experts do the talking. – Manohla Dargis, Los Angeles Times, Oct 29, 2002

Fresh: Both damning and damned compelling. – Michael Rechtshaffen, Hollywood Reporter, Jun 24, 2010

Fresh: While the filmmaking is standard documentary fare and the approach overtly biased, the narration, with tales of intelligence intrigue and ruthless foreign policy, is compelling and convincing. – Allison Benedikt, Chicago Tribune, Jun 24, 2010

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

Hitchens' book should be read

for a more in depth case vis-a-vis Kissinger, but the movie is grand. Kissinger is indeed a war criminal just like Nixon and, arguably, every president since...

Viva El Hitch!

Just see it

It may not cover as much ground as it could, but for the majority this will be a well laid out introduction to the reality of modern day 'western' foreign policy demythologised.

Misuse of political power

This documentary is excellent. Another good work showing the popular masses what goes on behind closed doors in the White House, and the international arena.

Mr. Kissinger comes across as a power thirsty man, who finds it, and then misuses it, by not being able to resist the temptation of plotting and ordering the killing of innocent civilians, while hiding it from the U.S. Congress.

This story illustrates as well the paranoia that the leaders at that time were under, as they felt the threat of communism advancing over the world. Big mistakes were made during those years, and I just wonder, what mistakes are being done today?