Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Vietnam War America's Conflict|
Genres: Action & Adventure, Educational, Documentary, Military & War
Be an eyewitness to the conflict that divided our nation and changed the very fabric of society. This collection of harrowing and compelling footage traces the evolution of this conflict from a regional military engagement... more »
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Reviewed on 7/9/2015...
Very Informative and really shows you what the vietnam war was like. They dont hold back much !
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Military Industrial Complex Surrealism
S. Nyland | Six Feet Of Earth & All That It Contains | 07/18/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Mill Creek's VIETNAM: AMERICA'S CONFLICT is one of the strangest things I have ever seen. I say that because of what it simply is: A collection of Department of Defense & US Military made propaganda films intended to sell the war in Vietnam to America's population like MacDonald's sells hamburgers. Many viewers may be downright revolted by the content of these short films, most of which are no more than 30 minutes long. Revolted not by scenes of carnage or suffering -- though rest assured there is plenty of that -- but revolted by the approach used by the narrators to describe the activities depicted. Words like "heroism", "combat effectiveness", "decisive victory" and "honor & duty" are not what most of us associate with the Vietnam War.
And yet that was sort of the deal at the time most of these were made, between 1965 and 1969 or so, before the tide of public opinion had turned against the effort. If you have ever wondered how on earth people could have been surprised that we "lost", here you go. If you were to believe the jingoistic, upbeat, optimistic tone of these short documentary films you'd have expected us to win. Or put it this way: If what is on these DVDs is the only information you have to consider about the Vietnam War, you'd be hard pressed to believe that we actually managed to LOSE.
That's what makes them propaganda. They are meant to convince viewers that not only was the military effort going well, but that by golly some of it might actually be kind of fun, especially scenes of flyboys celebrating with champagne back at the Bien Hoa air base after their squadron's 25th successful bombing raid. Later, they relax at an on-base officer's club while enjoying a song & dance routine by a famous celebrity couple organized by the USO program. We see films of happy Viet Cong defectors undergoing friendly looking interrogations overseen by US advisors, gallant US medics treating the sick & infirmed in native jungle villages, plenty of hearts & minds & skirmishes being won, and lots of heroic shots of American firepower giving their best to one Mr. Victor Charlie. Just with none of the introspection or second guessing popularized by such mainstream entertainments as APOCALYPSE NOW, PLATOON, FULL METAL JACKET, HAMBURGER HILL. THE BOYS IN COMPANY C, 84 CHARLIE MOPIC or GO TELL THE SPARTANS. It looks noble, it looks clean, and gosh darn if some of it doesn't look downright fun.
Is this for real? You have to ask yourself that, and the answer in plain doublespeak is yes. This is really the way that the war was promoted for the first few years before images of the Tet Offensive, Walter Cronkite asking "What the hell is going on here?", and Army colonels describing how they had to destroy villages in order to save them, it's the way the government told things before the war's more infamous events got in the way of all the nation building. Developments like the My Lai Massacre, the release of the Pentagon Papers, accidental B-52 bombings of Cambodian villages, and the backlash against Lyndon Johnson's presidency were yet to happen. And when you get down to brass tacks, the US Military more or less "won" every battle they fought in Vietnam, our soldiers really did serve with honor & distinction, and the South Vietnamese people really were grateful for the assistance we provided. For a while, at any rate.
History has painted a somewhat different picture, however, and these shamelessly agendaized propaganda films are one of the few surviving records of how things went until somebody wrecked all the fun. War is a nasty, vicious, horrible thing, and as Captain Kirk said the only good that can come of it is it's ending. The purpose of it is to break things and kill people and for that matter these films are quite refreshing in depicting our military industrial complex's zeal for doing so ... just without all of the humanist content of the later Hollywood drive to tap into our collective national guilt over the results. It is downright surreal to witness some of these events, especially with the bizarre narration praising things like napalm, defoliants, ruthless intelligence networks, and the gung-ho "can-do" spirit of our men in uniform. There is no apology for the tonnage of bombs, millions of bullets, determination to prevail and lack of remorse for the consequences, both good and bad. And don't think for a minute that the camera shies away from the casualties, they are shown to make a point about the inevitability of loss and teach viewers to be pragmatic about it. To make an omelette you gotta break a few eggs, see.
About the DVD presentations all of the transfers appear to have been struck from the original film stocks, most of which were 16mm and probably screened between attractions at your corner cinema to white middle class male audiences who nodded with approval while lighting up fresh cigarettes from the snack stand. Some come from more degraded sources and for my money they are even more disturbingly surreal for being tattered & worn; evidence that people actually did sit through these at one time. The only real complaint I have is that each individual "chapter" or program can only be played at a time -- there is no continuous play function in the DVD menu, and sadly as can be expected for budget line public domain trash DVD production there is no accompanying text to explain exactly what you are seeing. The sheer magnitude of material far from compensates: 1042 minutes, or roughly 23 hours of footage that contemporary thinking would have you believe never even existed. And to answer in advance a question from those who like me may own a few other collections, there are indeed identical programs as seen on stuff by Brentwood/BCI, St. Clair Vision, Platinum Disc & others. There's just a heck of a lot more of it, and without some of the clumsy editing done by those other companies to make it appear like this was their own work. Mill Creek at least has the balsam to show you exactly what these movies were really about, warts & all.
Is it ethical to think about this as entertainment, though? I have been wondering about that since first discovering these collections and seeing the overwhelmingly negative comments left by people who didn't understand what they'd be getting. I think that's what might bug the majority of those who have left and will continue to leave negative comments, having bought these collections expecting something else. Therefore some criticism aimed at Mill Creek and the other public domain companies who publish DVD compilations of this stuff is in order -- When people read "Vietnam War Documentaries" they think about grim, hard-hitting exposes that examine the human cost of the conflict, preferably on both sides. By comparison this stuff is one-sided, upbeat, lacks any regret, and nearly comes close to celebrating the Hell that is War without even batting an eyelash. It is a profoundly weird thing to witness.
So be forewarned: Unless you have a twisted sense of humor or an appreciation for (or need to learn about) US government produced wartime propaganda, you might want to stick to something by PBS, or even just rent APOCALYPSE NOW, because you won't get any of that liberal mamby-pamby apologist humanizing here. But for anyone with maybe a need to learn about how war is sold to people who couldn't even pronounce the names of the towns (sound familiar?) this stuff is priceless, and evidence of a masterpiece of applied surrealism on a horrifyingly grand scale.
Important footage ...
Jeremy Hogan | Indiana | 04/14/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As the son of a Vietnam Veteran I find this DVD set to be very useful and in many cases found factual the histories of certain units. If you're anti-war and anti-military don't watch these films but if you're genuinely interested in military history and the history of the Vietnam War buy these. They're cheap.
Sure, it's the "government" perspective ... but it is what it is. If you can get past the dated style of narration, there is also a lot of information in these films which is very factual. I personally learned the timelines of some operations my dad's division was involved in. And this is footage of the main units serving in The Nam compiled in one place for less than ten dollars. I also got to learn about a riverine Navy Unit an uncle of my mother was involved with. I would ask him about it myself but unfortunately he's dead due to Agent Orange.
The people that put this DVD set together are really doing the public a service. I have some of these films already but I had to go to the National Archives and copy them myself. I've gathered up films like these and done my own interviews to help tell the story about my dad's unit, but there were some films on this set I didn't find or even know about and now I'll go look for them on my next visit to the National Archives.
If you want the "truth" about the Vietnam War talk to the Veterans who were there. That's as close as you'll get. People who weren't there or don't have family members or friends who were there and to tell them what it was like aren't going to know what really happened there. Maybe if people start to document the histories of the Vietnam Veterans the public will have a better understanding. Unfortunately, most of these vets have mostly remained silent all these years because of the very kind of people who would simply call these films propaganda and then dismiss them and say we lost the war. Meanwhile, for those of us who are curious about the war, time is not on our side as Agent Orange, PTSD, etc. are decimating these Veterans most of whom are "brave" and "honorable."
I've been interviewing my dad and people from his unit and the story they tell is quite different than what the media, the government or some anti-war protesters in some cases reading North Vietnamese "propaganda" in the 60s and 70s have told us over the years. War is never good, but the WWII Veterans (who fought the 'good war'), for example, were not the only "band of brothers." There were "bands of brothers" in Korea, Vietnam and I can guarantee right now in Afghanistan and Iraq - maybe we'll hear their stories someday too.
Furthermore, if you're looking for one documentary to tell the story about an entire war in "Indochina" that took 10,000 days and went from the 1940s until the late 1970s then you're going to be very disappointed. A lot of the stuff presented in these films is what really happened but with all public relations the entity behind the material ... in this case the government ... is putting their spin on it though these films are in ways ways factual. So, check these "government films" out, they're pretty interesting, then do yourself a favor ... make friends with some Vietnam Vets, thank them for their service in The Nam (whether you agreed with the war or not) and listen to what they have to say if they'll tell you. Also, read some good books like Stanley Karnow's Vietnam book, Herr's book, "Dispatches", Joe Galloway and Col. Moore's two books, and a book called, "The Rise and Fall of an American Army" also read some of the the scores of books written by the vets themselves like "and a hard rain fell," and "Brennan's War" and "Ghosts of the Highlands." I've found a few documentaries particularly interesting: Vietnam: A Television History, Inside the Vietnam War, the 10,000 Day War, etc, etc. The television series, though it's fiction, "Tour of Duty" is also well done.
If you look at things and study them from many perspectives you'll find the truth about the war isn't simple and the Vietnam War was very complicated. You're also going to learn that the guys who were there, for the most part, were honorable people who were drafted or joined the military and then did their jobs honorably in some of the worst circumstances or even worse than people, myself included, can imagine. Even I can't imagine what they went through ... but I know how my dad is after doing two tours there. It's in his eyes.
If you study the history of our military in Vietnam you'll also learn that they never lost a major battle and the war was lost politically not militarily. You'll also learn that the seeds of the war began in the 1940s and wasn't the fault of 19-year-old boys who people spit on and called names upon returning home from their tours of duty.
If you want the total truth, you'll never find it, it doesn't exist ... the Vietnam War is still controversial 40 years after the U.S. started draw down it's troops there. The Vietnam War is a never ending story and you'll never get to the end of it and it will still be debated years from now.
I for one, am glad these films were preserved by the government and someone thought to put them on a four DVD set that can be found online for less than 10 bucks."
Great for collectors
G. Sapara | USA | 06/04/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Unlike others who have interjected their personal political views about this set, based on their feelings about the war, I am restricting myself to commenting on quality and content.
Given that, this is a very good set. A series of DoD and DoA training films (whether you consider that "propaganda" or not is up to you). It gives a good snapshot of how the war was presented to those in the military during their training.
It is also a good source for hobbyists as it shows uniforms, equipment, and terrain. That itself is worth the 5 stars."