Official Secrets: Film Review
Updated: Jun 23
Official Secrets is docudrama based on true events surrounding the trial and story of the real life whistleblower Katherine Gunn.
In 2003, GCHQ employee Katherine Gun violated the Official Secrets Act when she leaked a secret memo, which she did in order to prevent the manipulation of intelligence that would lead to the invasion of and war against Iraq. The Official Secrets Act states that no confidential government information or intelligence may be leaked to the public. In morally defying this act, Gun was subject to scrutiny and accused of betraying the United Kingdom. Gun has stated that as far as Hollywood films go, this film has been rather accurate regarding what occurred after she leaked information suggesting that members of the United Nations were going to be influenced into passing the vote for the invasion of Iraq.
The performances in this film were absolutely wonderful, and there are many well loved actors that are part of this project. Matt Smith and Ralph Fiennes were believable and charismatic in their respective roles as Martin Bright (Smith) and Ben Emmerson (Fiennes). A shout out to Conleth Hill, who played the very loud Roger Alton, this performance was refreshing and it was nice to see Hill in something other than Game of Thrones. Keira Knightly was everything you’d hope for in a leading lady, her performance of Katherine Gun was so moving and perfectly emotive. For sure, Knightlys performance is a large part of why this film was so good.
In regards to the film score, it was a typical thriller score but nothing really stood out, I think this was mainly because I was constantly engrossed with what was happening onscreen so I didn’t pay much attention to the soundtrack. The plot and dialogue is so fast paced and straight to the point that it requires active attention and listening. The soundtrack was just background noise, really.
I loved the formatting of Official Secrets, the mixture of the films shots and shots from real life events, such as the protests against the Iraq war and interviews with Tony Blair and George W. Bush, worked so well together and brought the reality of the film to the foreground.
I do wish slightly more was shown concerning the public outrage of the Iraq war and how Gun’s actions affected the public; these things were briefly shown and mentioned however, paying more attention to this may have helped show the true gravity of the situation and the national havoc it caused. The protest against the Iraq war that took place on the 15th of February 2003 is considered one of the largest protests ever. However, people like me, who were very young when these events were happening in real life, would not have the same understanding of these events in comparison to those who really witnessed them. Gun’s case received a huge amount of attention all over the world and again, it would have been interesting to see the amount of support and criticism she received from the general public.
Yet, overall, this film was well thought out and was consequently very thought provoking. It is truly amazing to recognise the bravery of Katherine Gun and startling to see the obstacles thrown in her way for her actions. Moreover, it has made me question why on earth Tony Blair was never held accountable for his actions. Blair was responsible for the deaths of over 400,000 Iraqi and British people because he helped the U.S government start what was essentially an ILLEGAL war. There was never any proof that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, therefore an entire country was attacked on grounds of speculation. Official Secrets is such an important film to see, it reminds viewers that doing the right thing is not always easy and that sometimes the people in power do not always have the best intentions.
( Keira Knightly with Katherine Gun, and Tony Blair with George W. Bush)
AGE RATING: R (for language)