Search - American Experience: Two Days in October on DVD


American Experience: Two Days in October
American Experience Two Days in October
Actors: Ping Wu, Mike Hagiwara
Director: Robert Kenner
Genres: Television, Documentary
NR     2005     1hr 30min

Studio: Pbs Release Date: 05/04/2009 Run time: 90 minutes

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Ping Wu, Mike Hagiwara
Director: Robert Kenner
Genres: Television, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Television, Biography, Vietnam War
Studio: Pbs (Direct)
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 11/08/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 9
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

The most truth in one place. . .
Carl Hoffman | Cleveland Heights,, OH United States | 11/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I was a high school junior in Wisconsin, 90 miles from Madison, at the time of the "two days" covered by this film. Today I'm a high school history teacher in Ohio, and the next time I teach my semester elective on the Vietnam War era, I'm going to use this film as the opening exercise. It contains more truth about the war than I've seen in any other single presentation. It's not just about the Black Lions, not just about the UW protesters, not just about the war's politics, not just about the Vietnamese. Everybody's there-even the Madison police-everybody gets to speak, they're all presented fairly.

The film is based on David Maraniss' THEY MARCHED INTO SUNLIGHT, which tells the same stories, and a great many others, in far more depth. But given the constraints of a 90-minute video presentation, TWO DAYS IN OCTOBER is outstanding. With its use of vintage TV clips juxtaposed with modern-day interviews of the participants, it creates immediacy at the same time it gives the witnesses a chance to reflect on events decades past. I looked hard for bias, and didn't find any-although it's clear the film is a Rohrschach ink blot test. What you see in it depends on what you bring to it. So I'll mention what I bring to it: the perception that the higher-ups in Vietnam and Madison were in a fortress of denial, that they refused to accept the evidence of their own eyes. The Black Lions were victims of an ambush because an overzealous commander ordered them to advance when he shouldn't have, but Gen. Westmoreland couldn't admit it, even to himself. The violence at the U. of Wisconsin was perpetrated mainly by the police, who thus made a touchy situation worse, but the state legislators staged public hearings to blame the students and Chancellor Sewell because they couldn't own up to reality.

Other sources which deal with some of the same subject matter as TWO DAYS IN OCTOBER are the protester-friendly video THE WAR AT HOME (1979) and Tom Bates' moderate/conservative nonfiction account RADS (1992), about Madison's underground bombers. Both of them describe the Dow Day violence as part of larger stories.

I connect the authorities' penchant for denial to an anecdote that appears in THEY MARCHED INTO SUNLIGHT, but not in the film. In 1967, current Vice President Dick Cheney was a graduate student in Madison. Maraniss quotes him as dismissing the student protests as a distraction and a waste of time. Apparently Cheney was too busy with "other priorities" to learn anything at the UW that would have prevented him from leading our country into the current quagmire in Iraq. (And he's still in denial about the existence of WMD.) What a difference it might have made if only he had actually gotten himself educated about the difficulty of fighting insurgents or the dangers of plunging our soldiers into an unnecessary war.

For a quick encapsulation of America in Vietnam, there's nothing better than TWO DAYS IN OCTOBER."
As good as it gets.
Lunaticus | Baton Rouge, LA USA | 10/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Amazingly, this one documentary captures the essence of what most of America was feeling at the time about our involvement in the Vietnam war.
There are interviews with soldiers who fought, protestors who stood up to the establishment and big business, policemen who were told to stop the protestors, family members who were at home while their loved-ones were in Vietnam and even Viet Cong leaders involved in the same battle as the US soldiers being intervewed. All of these people having ties in some way or another with each other.

This is masterfully combined with footage throughout the show, as the incidents are being recounted.

I was flipping the channels when I ran across this documentary not long after it began and I was immediately riveted, so much so that I couldn't even bring myself to..ahem..use the facilities till it was over.

Get this DVD and you will have a good idea of how much of the US felt and still feel about the war in Vietnam. Amazing."
The Vietnam War: At Home & Abroad
Clarence E. Wunderlin | 06/29/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have just finished a discussion with my undergraduate "History of the Vietnam War" class about TWO DAYS IN OCTOBER, which they watched the day following my lecture on "Search & Destroy: Westmoreland's Big-Unit War." The discussion was the best we have had in this class. The connections that TWO DAYS makes between the conduct of the war in Vietnam and the rise of the campus-based radical antiwar movement make this film essential viewing. TWO DAYS provides a rare glimpse into the life of the Regular Army, including interviews with the wife of the late LTC Terry de la Mesa Allen, Jr., as well as Delta Co. CO Welch, and First Sgt. Barrow. My students finally got to see what a real NCO looked and sounded like by watching "Top" Barrow's interview. But TWO DAYS also provides a look into the emerging antiwar movement (Professor Zeitlin, now a Distinguished Professor at UCLA, Paul Soglin of Madison, Wisc., et al.) and gave my students an understanding of why that generation's belief in "civic duty" drove them to the antiwar movement in the late 1960s. Now, this wasn't easy for me: in addition to being a history professor I am a combat veteran of Vietnam-Cambodia (Apr. 1970-Mar. 1971), serving with "Cold Steel Alpha," 2/7 Cav. First Cav. Division (Airmobile). Some things in the PBS production almost drove me to tears, but that is a good thing. As a teacher of history, I heartily recommend this American Experience production for classroom use. Clarence Wunderlin, Professor, Kent State University, Kent, OH.
"
Watch this before you enlist!
Louis J. Sheehan | Harrisburg, PA USA | 11/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I was seven years old when these events occurred (although, at the time, I recall having the attitude espoused by the leader of the Black Lions (I was raised in a conservative area)). There are many fascinating facets to this film, but two hit me hardest: 1. The gung-ho, obviously exceptionally capable leader of the Black Lions and how the higher-ups abused/took advantage of this (and his troops') ability and dedication to have their own tickets punched to advance their careers and 2. The domestic authorities' mischaracterization of the causal factor of the student riot in Wisconsin. You really could NOT trust those in authority! Great weaving of interviews, including with the leader of the NVA ambush. Be sure to watch the extra tracts. Louis J Sheehan"