A Socialist In Canada, Sept 19, 2017
Enclosed is a compilation of news and background on the broadcast of The Vietnam War, ten-part (18-hour) documentary film of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Part one of The Vietnam War premiered on the U.S. television network PBS on Sept 17, 2017.
Film review by Thomas A. Bass, published in Mekong Review, Sept 18, 2017
Reviewing also the film’s accompanying book: The Vietnam War: An Intimate History, by Geoffrey C Ward and Ken Burns, Knopf, 2017.
Everything wrong with the new ten-part PBS documentary on the Vietnam War is apparent in the first five minutes. A voice from nowhere intones about a war “begun in good faith” that somehow ran off the rails and killed millions of people. We see a firefight and a dead soldier in a body bag being winched into a helicopter, as the rotor goes thump, thump, thump, like a scene from Apocalypse Now. Then we cut to a funeral on Main Street and a coffin covered in Stars and Stripes, which multiply, as the camera zooms out, into dozens and then hundreds of flags, waving like a hex against warmongers who might be inclined to think that this film is insufficiently patriotic.
Everything right with the documentary is apparent in the next few minutes, as the film rolls back (literally running several scenes backward) into a trove of archival footage and music from the times and introduces the voices — many of them Vietnamese — that will narrate this history. The film relies heavily on writers and poets, including Americans Tim O’Brien and Karl Marlantes and the Vietnamese writers Le Minh Khue, and Bao Ninh, whose Sorrow of War ranks as one of the great novels about Vietnam or any war…
Why, for example, are the film’s interviews shot exclusively as close-ups? If the camera had pulled back, we would have seen that former Senator Max Cleland has no legs — he lost them to “friendly fire” at Khe Sanh. And what if Bao Ninh and Tim O’Brien had been allowed to meet each other? Their reminiscing would have brought the meaningless mayhem of the war into the present. And instead of its search for “closure” and healing reconciliation, what if the film had reminded us that US special forces are currently operating in 137 of the planet’s 194 countries, or 70 per cent of the world?…
Read the full review at the original weblink above.
* How to watch The Vietnam War, a film by Ken Burns and Lynne Novick: weblinks on PBS (for viewers in U.S. only)
Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s ‘Vietnam War’: Some predictions, by Paul Street, published on CounterPunch, Sept 22, 2017
Past all reason: The new series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick is mesmerizing. But it doesn’t answer the questions about the Vietnam War that many are still seeking, documentary film review by Andrew J. Bacevich, The Nation, Sept 19, 2017
‘Yet Burns and Novick pay surprisingly little attention to why exactly the United States insisted on butting in and why it subsequently proved so difficult to get out. Their lack of interest in this central issue is all the more striking given the acute misgivings about a large-scale US intervention that Lyndon Johnson repeatedly expressed in the fateful months between late 1964 and early 1965.’
A ball o’ confusion is coming to your TV: Ken Burns’ PBS Series on Vietnam gives its corporate sponsors little to worry about, by Frank Joyce, Alternet, Sept 15, 2017 (this review also appear on Vietnam Full Disclosure)
PBS’ ‘Vietnam War’ tells some truths, by Don North, Consortium News, Sept 20, 2017
The PBS 10-part series offers valuable insights into the horrific conflict but still treads lightly on U.S. leaders’ guilt as they lied and connived to start and extend the slaughter, explains former Vietnam war correspondent Don North.
In The Year Of the Pig: 1968 documentary film on the American War in Vietnam
Documentary film directed by Emile De Antonio, 1968, 105 minutes. (Read about the film here on Wikipedia.)
In the Year of the Pig is an Academy Award nominated documentary about the Vietnam War made in 1968. Director Emile De Antonio said in Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media (1978):
In The Year Of The Pig was/is an organizing weapon, a collage/history of the people’s struggle in Vietnam. That collage was made with the help of the DRV, the NLF, French Marxists, film and television friends of the Czech Democratic Republic (1967), the German Democratic Republic, U.S. deserters, antiwar veterans and the antiwar movement itself. It was made when the Movement was young, large, high on struggle and emotion, and without knowledge of what had happened in Vietnam, when it happened and why.
No U.S. protest was shown in the film because it was the other addressing itself to us, frequently in our words and images. It was also the way we saw them from the mid-1930s to the Têt Offensive. It was a Marxist, historical line, not free from error. Its audience was varied, intense, in some places even wide. It played European television but never U.S. Not even now. It played the U.S and Europe theatrically. Theaters were attacked. Screens were painted over with hammer and sickle (Los Angeles, among others); bomb threats to the theater in Houston; in Paris during a long, successful run, the cinema was systematically stink bombed. It was used as a tool by the Moratorium; it was a benefit for the Chicago Seven at the opening of their trial; the Australian antiwar movement used it as its primary film weapon; it played GI coffee houses; it played teach-ins. I still meet people who say, “Your film turned me to antiwar activity.” And yes, it still plays colleges.
Despite the emphasis De Antonio places on his admittedly incredible archival footage, the intense and provocative interviews he gets from conservative establishment figures are what truly shed light on America’s still somehow mysterious war in Vietnam.
Hearts and Minds
Documentary film about the Vietnam War, directed by Peter Davis. (Read about the film here on Wikipedia.)