Published on February 17th, 2011 | by Chris2
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)
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…
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audience Rating: R (Restricted)
Original Release Date:
- Georges Bidault
- Clark Clifford
- George Coker
- Kay Dvorshock
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
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.