Vietnam: Being There (A Review)

As a young man I volunteered for the Army and got two tours in Vietnam…..it was, as they say, a defining moment of my life…because of the time I became interesting in the study of war or as it is known in university Conflict Management…..and as they say the rest is history.

There have been many movies about the war….most of which I did not see…..I just think the Hollywood could not get it right.  There was a TV series, Tour Of Duty, that was pretty accurate…well worth a streaminfg attack if you ever get those.

The many history channels have filed many docs on the war….most of them are great propaganda pieces and not very accurate….although some of the footage is amazing.

Documentary film maker, Ken Burns, has a new project about nthe Vietnam War and all the reviews are great…..

A decade in the making, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s documentary series, The Vietnam War, premieres on PBS Sunday, but it’s already gaining quite the reputation among critics. The 18-hour documentary, told in 10 episodes, digs deep into the conflict, meshing first-person interviews with historical footage. Then it goes beyond since, for many, 1973 didn’t mean the end of suffering. Here’s what the critics are saying:

  • James Poniewozik at the New York Times says it “will break your heart and win your mind.” Given the subject matter, it’s no surprise he found it “wearying.” It’s “probably Mr. Burns’ saddest film,” he writes. But it presents a “staggering” amount of material and powerful oral histories.
  • Some 80 interviewees “offer a glimpse into the psyches of people on all sides of the conflict,” writes Sonia Saraiya at Variety. It can be disorienting, but “disorientation in the midst of multiple national histories and conflicting personal agendas is, in a nutshell, the experience of the Vietnam War.”
  • At CNN, Brian Lowry calls The Vietnam War “a masterpiece” that “humanizes what was often a faceless enemy.” Another strength: its ability to show “the ripples from the war still being felt today.”
  • It may be long, but it’s “worth every single minute of your time,” writes Hank Stuever at the Washington Post, calling it “required viewing.” Not only will you experience “terror, horror, disbelief, discovery, disgust, marvel, pride, ambivalence and tears,” but “you’ll lose count of how many times you’ll have to pick your jaw up off the floor.”
  • Though “very little that’s said feels dangerous, controversial or exposed from our perspective,” The Vietnam War is remarkable, beautiful, repetitive, frustrating, assaulting, and “nightmarish”—and “it’s impossible to look away,” writes Daniel Fienberg at the Hollywood Reporter.
  • Adds Ed Siegel at the ARTery, “It’s not easy and it’s certainly not fun, but Ken Burns and Lynn Novick know how to make history dramatic, how to make television riveting, and how to tell the country’s story in a way that really defines what American exceptionalism is all about.”

I will watch it but will wait until I can buy the series for I can only take small portions before a memory gets kicked up.

I apologize for two days of not so interesting posts….it has been a bad couple of days….as compensation I offer up some great tunes from the Vietnam Era….

Time to back out gracefully and enjoy some down time….see guys Monday….chuq

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13 thoughts on “Vietnam: Being There (A Review)

  1. Burns made the definitive documentary on the US Civil war, a masterpiece. I will be sure to get this new film series on DVD.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. I was number 53 on the draft for 1971.. a sure bet for being drafted by March of that year… so I enlisted in the Air Force. I wasn’t against going over there if that was in the cards but they were already dressing down by that time and my overseas deployment was a year in Iceland, of all places.. In an odd way I wished I had gone if for nothing else, it was the war of my generation and I wanted to see for myself. I never thought one bit this was some Great Crusade effort; I was under no illusions. Even though I only spent 4 years of my life in the military (and four years high school ROTC) I was always a military freak of some sort.. from my early childhood and even to this day. I often thought, had I stayed in for 20 or 30 I very likely would have made it up to full colonel… not some time-in-grade career major.

    Ken Burns does great work no matter the subject. I’ve seen all his stuff. Looking forward to this one as well. I also watched Tour of Duty and preferred it over China Beach from the same TV era. Perhaps my fave documentary series of the war was the 1980’s 11 hour VHS tape series from CBS News, The Vietnam War, narrated by Walter Cronkite. I’ve since copied it down to DVD then to MP4 over the years.

    What made you do two tours (although I might guess)?
    Were you Infantry?

      1. Plus my old commander, Ge, Singlaub was putting together a team to work the Delta…..Studies and Observations Group…..so I decided that another 18 months would be okay….chuq

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