|English subtitles Hearts and Minds||2 years ago|
|Arabic subtitles Hearts and Minds||2 years ago|
|English subtitles Hearts and Minds||3 years ago|
|Spanish subtitles Hearts and Minds||3 years ago|
|Romanian subtitles Hearts and Minds||3 years ago|
|Brazilian Portuguese subtitles Hearts and Minds||3 years ago|
A superior film/documentary
10/10 Peter Davis created one of the most moving accounts of the Vietnam War and the attitudes at home when he produced "Hearts and Minds".2 years ago
The film looks unflinchingly at the nature of power and horrible consequences of war. It is very much a pro-peace film, but uses the people who were there to speak for themselves. It also seeks to probe deeper underneath the American psyche of the times and evolves into a historical document about the violent social rupture that happened between the fifties and the sixties.
In many ways, it feels like a punch in the gut to watch the film. So many ideologies are laid bear....so many were false or misleading.
In the end, the film leaves you thinking about the price of war - and who is given the task to bear that price.
Truly deserving of the Oscar it received - and worthy of repeated viewing.
Absolutely heartbreaking stuff.
5/10 Occasionally Hearts and Minds comes over as too obvious and aggressive, as in the shockingly unflattering edits of glib, racist Americans piled one on top of another and the literal link the director draws between football and war. (Then again, I'm 31 years old and just don't know how open such racism was then, but the cuts from bigot to bigot are just brutal and perhaps it's wishful thinking on my part to assume that the director was unfair.) Also, it seems the communist NLF did no wrong that was worth putting in the film. Instead the director concentrated on eloquent nationalist sentiments. I happen to agree entirely with the assessment of the war shown in the film, but even with my sympathies it's hard not to notice that this film that concentrates so brilliantly on the suffering of real people before an evil policy focuses almost solely on the crimes of the Americans and their South Vietnamese allies. But maybe that was someone else's film to make and, at that moment in time, the director probably felt that there was enough coverage of NLF as just plain evil people. It's a small gripe about such a mammoth film. Documentary is not Truth, no retelling of an event ever is. Hearts and Minds is an unapologetically partisan film and is so much the better for being honest about it.2 years ago
I'm `oriental' myself. Well, `oriental' enough that I know all those slurs and dismissive comments would have applied to my family and me. It was absolutely eerie for me to see people from Gen. Westmorland down to Americans watching parades on Main St. who had nothing but contempt for the people that to this day many swear the US was trying to save.
I'm not sure how many times I've ever seen the victim of bombing express himself outside of this film and that's sad. How many people were bombed in the last century? Millions certainly. In the US we've become so accustomed to hearing that our foreign policy requires almost annual bombings somewhere on earth. Particularly during the Clinton years, punishing through air strikes became so routine that it barely merited news coverage. These attacks may not be as indiscriminate as they used to be, but how many people in our history did that one anguished man speak for as he wept about his family and his home?
The sheer carnage on display in Hearts and Minds made the whole war film genre seem perversely sentimental to me. It's seldom helpful to hold up fiction to docu-footage, but, in this case, any number of moments from Hearts and Minds makes otherwise impressive films like Apocalypse Now! and Platoon seem like acts of bad taste.
Difficult, important document of the era
5/10 I'll admit up front that Peter Davis' documentary makes no effort to show the carnage and torture sponsored and perpetuated by the Viet Cong -- and the one substantial time it explores the way South Vietnamese civilians were imprisoned and tortured by their own government (in huge numbers, by the way), the film isn't very clear about who made these arrests. It concentrates almost solely on the inhumanity and pointlessness of our presence there in a pointless war which even our leaders were unprepared to comprehend.2 years ago
It's not "balanced" within itself, but given the day-to-day barrage of standard media coverage of the Vietnam war during the time the documentary was made, I believe the making of this film represented an attempt to "balance" the average American's knowledge of what was really going on and how misrepresented the war was by our government and even by the major media most of the time.
All that being said, it's a vivid, important part of the mosaic of American war records. The images are enormously powerful, and where occasionally Mr. Davis' juxtapositions seem overtly manipulative, he still is to be praised emphatically for collecting and assembling this material in such a courageous and uncompromising way. It is essential viewing because of the power of its collected imagery and the lessons about America that we still need to learn. 30 years after the Vietnam war ended, there are still too many essential ways in which that conflict is not understood....and the degree to which we cannot seem, as a nation, to learn from the lessons of Vietnam is only too evident in the manner and attitude with which our leaders have handled and carried on the American military action in Iraq.
Having read a lot of the writings of Vietnam vets over the years about this war, I'm tempted to say that this documentary doesn't go far enough to show the core of absurdity and tragedy at the heart of this war and the way it put young Americans into a hellish situation for no reason and then left them there to be a part of a morally ambivalent, politically and humanly misguided situation, forever disillusioning and haunting an entire generation. But if this film can help younger people to understand just the tip of the iceberg of the enormous tragedy of America's involvement in a pointless 10-year war, then it continues to be worthwhile.
The film itself does not provide nearly enough "backstory" for a student or younger person who did not live through the era. Peter Davis presupposes that the viewing audience knows a lot of things which we knew at the time but which is no longer general knowledge for many viewers. But as a part of an overall attempt (using various sources) to understand that war and its colossal ramifications to our country's self-image, and as a reminder of how easy it is to slip into a tragic imperialism masquerading as some other kind of naive political idealism, it's an essential and vividly effective document of the times for which we owe Mr. Davis a huge debt of gratitude. There is much to be learned from films like this -- including things which our leaders today don't seem to have learned themselves, despite having lived through the Vietnam era.
It's also important to remember that until the Vietnam war, and later Watergate (reminders of which resonate in the presence in this film of "Pentagon Paper"- leaker Daniel Ellsberg), Americans generally believed what their government told them, and didn't think Presidents lied. It may be difficult now to remember there ever was a time when we trusted our government not to be intentionally misleading us, and if Mr. Davis makes a conspicuous effort to emphasize the duplicity of Johnson and Nixon in this documentary, it's probably because it was such a new and unbelievable concept to the overwhelming percentages of Americans before the Vietnam era took place.
8/10 Davis does a neat job of laying out the absurdity in the US's involvement in Vietnam. He does it mainly through the use of two techniques.2 years ago
(1) Successive contrast, as it's called in the psychology of perception. If you stare at a black square for a while, then switch your gaze to a gray square, it looks white, not gray. In this movie Davis juxtaposes moments from interviews and newsreel footage to demonstrate how far removed high-level speeches can be from events as they take place on the ground. General Westmoreland, who, like General Douglas MacArthur, was another one of those giants in the field of Oriental psychology, explains to us that Asians don't place the same kind of value on human life as Westerners do. (He might have been thinking of kamikaze attacks from WWII.) Cut to a Vietnamese funeral full of wailing mourners. A coach gives a pep talk, screaming and weeping, to a high school football team in Niles, Ohio. "Don't let them BEAT US!" he cries. Cut to a scene of combat.
(2) Selective interviewing and editing. The Vietnamese seem to speak nothing but common sense and they are seen doing nothing but defending themselves -- and very little of that. The Americans that we see and hear are mostly divided into two types: phony idiots and wised-up ex-patriot veterans. Fred Coker is an exception. He's a naval aviator who was evidently a POW. He's clean-cut, intelligent, and articulate, and he's given a lot of screen time. This is all for the good because he's about the only pro-war character we see. He's been there and he still believes. He serves as a useful bridge between the pro-war idiots and the embittered anti-war Americans.
And of course the statements we hear on screen are selected for their dramatic value. One former pilot describes how he and his comrades approached their bombing missions -- for some of them it was just a job, part of the daily grind, but for some others it got to be kind of fun. And for him? "I enjoyed it." The amazing thing in propagandistic documentaries like this is not that the sound bites were selected. Of course they were, otherwise you'd have a dull movie of a thousand people from the middle of the road. "Dog bites man" is not news. "Man bites dog" IS news! No, the truly astonishing thing is that some of the interviewees actually SAID these things in the first place. Selective or not, here is the evidence on film. And how is it possible to "take out of context" General Westmoreland's disquisition on the Oriental attitude towards life? Or a vet smirking and saying he enjoyed killing Gooks?
I'm reminded of a scene in Michael Moore's first documentary, "Roger and Me." Moore is talking to a handful of rich wives who are on some Flint, Michigan, golf course, chipping balls. His camera rolls on and on while the ladies chat about the closing of the plants and the movement of jobs to cheaper labor markets. They love the area around Flint -- great golf courses, good riding country. And the newly unemployed? Well, says one of the wives, before a swing, now they'll have to get up and find a job. Poor people are always lazy anyway.
It's a shocking statement, and we hear similarly shocking statements throughout this movie. It all leaves a viewer with a sense of awe that anyone could be so unashamedly deluded.
I don't see any reason to point out the similarities between what happened in Viet Nam and what's going on as I write this. I wish our current leaders, practically none of whom served in the military let alone Viet Nam, could have seen this because it might have served as a useful reminder that war isn't REALLY very much like a high school football game.
G. K. Chesterton once wrote, "My country, right or wrong, is a thing no true patriot would think of saying. It is like saying, 'My mother, drunk or sober'".
Doesn't pull any punches
5/10 There are certain subjects so horrendous and so important that fictionalizing them, regardless of the good intentions of the film maker, can only trivialize them. "Schindler's List", "JFK" and "The Deer Hunter" come to mind.2 years ago
Give me a good documentary any time, and this is one of the best.
It takes the silly rhetoric of our leaders and juxtaposes it with images showing the horrendous results of their short-sighted policies.
If you want to know what the VietNam war was really all about, (and why so many of us were against it,) skip "Apocalypse Now", "Go Tell the Spartans" and "Full Metal Jacket" and watch this one.