1970s Hearts and Minds (1974)

Published on February 17th, 2011 | by Chris

2

Hearts and Minds (1974)


Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On February 17, 2011
Last modified:October 3, 2012

Summary:

No matter what your views on the Vietnam war, whether you are old enough to remember or not, I think you'll probably learn a great deal from Hearts and Minds.

Hearts and Minds (1974)If you watch no other documentary about the Vietnam war, you should make it 1974's Hearts and Minds.  It's a chilling look at what (even then) was known about what was going on over there, and how it all never should have happened in the first place.

First off, realize that this movie is decidely anti-Vietnam war.  I don't think there is any doubt to the purpose of the movie.  However, I think they did a fine job of exploring the facts (as it suited this purpose) and even providing a sort of tribute to the many casualties.

One of the prominent names is Navy pilot and long-term POW George Coker.  Throughout the movie he is shown not condemning the war per-se, nor really being "for it" in the traditional sense of things.  Rather he's shown in the light I think we should see guys like him, doing the job he was called on to do, and that's about as good a tribute as it gets.

Also prominent throughout is the use of key Presidential soundbites and historical events, from Truman all the way through to Nixon.  When pieced together like they've done here, it paints a picture that we now know is all too common.  One of the US meddling in foreign affairs where it shouldn't be, and feeding the American people, well, a line of BS a mile long.

I'm only touching on a couple aspects of the movie here, as there are really too many too mention in any detail.  The views of the draft evaders, the people at home, the people of Vietnam, and the soldiers both on the ground and the ones who returned....  It's pretty sobering and disheartening, and even more so when you consider that this was made *right then*, that it didn't take years for all of this to come out.  It's unfortunate that it has taken years, if not decades for the truth to become accepted, but the reality that these facts were indeed known at the time, at least to a few, is saddening.

No matter what your views on the Vietnam war, whether you are old enough to remember or not, I think you'll probably learn a great deal from Hearts and Minds.  It manages to do its job without (most) of the usual "War is Bad(tm)" generic rhetoric.  Yeah, it gets close at times, most notably the scene of the NVA soldier's funeral, but facts is facts, and its portrayed in just that manner.

Be sure to watch all the way through the end of the credits, to the end of the parade scene at the end.  I think it sums up perfectly what public opinion must have been, with everyone arguing and nobody really knowing the truth.

Hearts and Minds (The Criterion Collection) Hearts and Minds (The Criterion Collection)
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Description

A courageous and startling film, Peter Davis' landmark documentary Hearts and Minds unflinchingly confronts the United States' involvement in Vietnam. Using a wealth of sources-from interviews to newsreels to documentary footage of the conflict at home and abroad-Davis constructs a powerfully affecting portrait of the disastrous effects of war...

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audience Rating: R (Restricted)
Brand: DAVIS,PETER
Manufacturer: Criterion
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • William Marshall
  • Georges Bidault
  • Les Brown
  • Clark Clifford

Reviews

Customer Reviews
Average Customer Review

95 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Truth is Disturbingly Heartbreaking and Grotesque..., December 5, 2004
By 
Swederunner (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hearts and Minds (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
The images from Hearts and Minds are disturbingly heartbreaking and grotesque. For example, a naked little girl is shown running down a road with skin pealing off her body as napalm continues to eat into her flesh. American soldiers watch the girl running by them, until it seems as if the camera that is capturing the moment urges the soldiers to help the girl. A Viet Cong suspect is shot point blank in the head on the street and his body falls to the ground with blood pulsating out of his temple. A child cries in agony by the grave of someone close to him while the grave diggers take a break with a cool Coca Cola. These unsettling scenes slowly descend into some unused space of the brain as they will return to consciousness in order to haunt the viewer of the horrors of the Vietnam War at a later time.

Peter Davis had accumulated over 200 hours of footage before beginning the long process of editing down the film into a feasible 112 minutes. During these 112 minutes... Read more
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102 of 115 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PLEASE Watch this film., July 14, 2002
By 
Lyle B. Forehand (rural California) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hearts and Minds (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
It's interesting that so many of those who have reviewed this film have included information about when and where they first saw it. But I understand. In 1974 we had cowardly withdrawn our promised assistance to our Vietnamese "friends." The riots had stopped. We stopped caring about a war that continued unabated; the evening news no longer led with stories of American vs. "bad guy" bodycounts. I saw the film in a theater located on one of the very streets where the most bottles had been thrown by students and other youth, and where the most heads had been bashed by Seattle's finest (gee, some things never change!) When the film ended there was absolute silence: no one spoke; no one moved from their seat; it seemed no one even breathed. After almost a minute you could finally hear some muffled sobs only. There were, and are, no words to express the darkness of men's souls; there is only art. And, besides being a good documentary on the Vietnam war,
(by "good" I mean it will anger... Read more
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most powerful documentaries ever made, July 31, 2006
By 
T. Biddle (Denver, CO USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hearts and Minds (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
To start off, the "criticism" that this film is "too one-sided" or has "an agenda", demonstrates a lack of understanding of what a documentary is and does. Documentary filmmakers ALL have agendas; they have a point-of-view and must engage viewers emotionally or they fail in their task.

I saw "Hearts and Minds" in college in about 1977. The campus auditorium was packed with mostly sympathetic "liberal" college students, with the exception of about half a dozen uniformed military clearly present to ridicule the film and voice their opposition. As has been mentioned in other reviews, a stunned silence gripped the room at the end of the film, as the parade clown shouting "Come on! Smile! Get happy!" pranced into the fade-out at the end of the credits. The only sound was the audible sobbing coming from the military protesters. We as an audience stayed to talk to them and to help them deal with the emotions they were experiencing. It was one of the most amazing... Read more
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Hearts and Minds (1974) Chris

Summary: No matter what your views on the Vietnam war, whether you are old enough to remember or not, I think you'll probably learn a great deal from Hearts and Minds.

4.0


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About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.



2 Responses to Hearts and Minds (1974)

  1. Sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing. I might try to watch it.

  2. warmoviebuff says:

    Excellent review. It was very controversial when it came out. I can remember it winning the Academy Award for best documentary and causing quite a stir when the winning director read a note from the Viet Cong praising the anti-war movement. Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra engineered a rebuttal.

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