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

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This film changed students views on the U.S. involvement in VietNam., August 23, 2013
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This review is from: Hearts and Minds (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
The MacArthur Foundation sent us this film when I was teaching U.S. history in a rural Michigan high school. It presents a very open view of our involvement in VietNam following the French defeat at the hands of the communists in 1954. Many of the students had dads, uncles, even brothers who had fought in the VietNam war. This film opened their eyes like nothing that they had ever seen. I'm long retired now but I'd still use this film in my classroom if possible.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a mixed bag of opinions., November 6, 2010
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This review is from: Hearts and Minds (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
This documentary spans a multitude of time and opinion. At points along you wonder where it's taking you. I feel that the director was honestly trying to give us an unbiased account of Vietnam but the overwhelming feeling is one of Anti-War or, more specifically, anti-Vietnam. Having said that, anti-war is by no means a sign of weakness or stupidity.

The unbiased attempt of the documentary comes from many opinions given by men who were there. Some of them so pro-war they make John Wayne look like Gandhi, some who started out Gung-Ho but due to what they did and saw now reflect very ruefully about their time in country.

In the middle of all the political posturing and hateful rhetoric of the time were the Vietnamese people. Focus of the documentary changes via editing from the words of "Sgt Rock"'s way to win to the villages destroyed by bomb after bomb from American planes. Peasants show us where their homes used to be, where their mothers, sons, daughters died... Read more
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Continues to be Important. A Classic., March 20, 2015
By 
K. Douglas Anderson (willimantic, connecticut) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hearts and Minds (Amazon Video)
I just watched Hearts and Minds again after twenty years. The film was prescient and controversial then, but has become deadly accurate over time. It is a film to outrage and break the heart and also to shine a harsh spotlight on our current epidemic of political lying about war, and about the fate of civilians during war.
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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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