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Added by Joseph Grey on 18 Dec 2012 09:42
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Iconic Movies: The Vietnam War

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People who added this item 3670 Average listal rating (2183 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.5
This is an atypical war movie. Instead of following a group of buddies as they try to survive combat, the story instead follows an emotionally unstable special forces Captain and his journey deep into Cambodia, and into the lair of a decorated war hero turned deity. Captain Benjamin Willard is tasked with the assassination of a decorated Colonel, Walter Kurtz. This movie is one that leaves you wondering what it's really about. Is this more, or less than a war movie?





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People who added this item 2486 Average listal rating (1533 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 8.1
Platoon follows a young soldier as he learns about the ugly realities of war in Vietnam. Two integral characters to his growth and survival are Sgt. Elias and Sgt. Barnes. Metaphorically, the two Sergeants could symbolize hatred versus reason, or good versus evil. Or you could simply say that they have their own ways of surviving the war. Symbolism and metaphor aside, the movie is well made, and very emotionally moving. Starring Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, and Willem Dafoe.




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A group of young soldiers go through training, and deployment. They experience the harshness of their drill sergeants, and the horrors of death during their tour in Vietnam. Flanked by a growing negativity and sense of hopelessness, the enlisted men in Company C look for a way to end their combat assignment early, and look for any way they can to go home alive. A compelling movie, highlighting military and bureaucratic corruption on both sides of the war. Starring Stan Shaw and Craig Wasson.


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Good Morning, Vietnam is set in 1965, and centers around the activities and challenges of a US military radio DJ. He improvises much of of his broadcasts, and seems to get in trouble with his superiors at every turn. This movie deals with corruption and suppression of the truth, but focuses mainly on the decisions and conscience of Adrian Cronauer, the main character.

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Much like The Boys in Company C, Full Metal Jacket begins with new recruits being brought in for training. Being beaten down and dehumanized, the training process makes the marines combat ready. After the marines go through their training process, a grim look at urban fighting in Hue province ensues. The characters introduced at the beginning undergo their own transformations, as they are either driven insane, or emotionless through training and war. Starring Matthew Modine, Arliss Howard, Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey, and Adam Baldwin.





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People who added this item 174 Average listal rating (121 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.7
I'm going to quote the listal description for the movie, since what I was going to write would have been almost the same.
"A brutal and realistic war film focuses on the lives of a squad of 14 U.S. Army soldiers of B Company, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infanty Regiment, 101st Airborne Division during the brutal 10 day (May 11-20, 1969) battle for Hill 937 in the A Shau Valley of Vietnam as they try again and again to take the fortified hill held by the North Vietnamese..."

The movie also highlights the friendships between the soldiers, race relations, and the hopelessness of brutal fighting that leaves dead and wounded friends in its wake. Starring Dylan McDermott, Steven Weber, and Courtney B. Vance.




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People who added this item 1938 Average listal rating (1218 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.1
The Deer Hunter begins with a group of friends in a steel mill town. Three of the men are going to be deployed to Vietnam, having signed up for combat infantry. This movie shows the change of the three characters as each of them experience a horrific ordeal in Vietnam. The post traumatic stress of the characters continue after their tour of combat has ended.

This movie balances slow, understated scenes with scenes of incredible violence, and illicit strong emotions both from the characters, and the viewer as well. Starring Robert DeNiro, Christopher Walken, and John Savage.





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The events of this movie take place in Cambodia, during the civil war between the Cambodian National Army and the Khmer Rouge. Many of the events show cruel executions and forced labor, all of which took place in Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge. The story follows the plight of journalist Dith Pran, a Cambodian who is taken prisoner, and forced to work under the constant threat of execution by the Khmer Rouge. His partner, reporter Sydney Schanberg attempts to rescue his friend by publicizing the violent situation in Cambodia. The title 'The Killing Fields' refers to the mass graves of slaughtered Cambodians, all killed during the dictatorship of Pol Pot.

There really is a lot to this movie, and more than I can describe in a paragraph. The movie stars Haing S. Ngor and Sam Waterston.


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This movie follows Ron Kovic as he experiences the personal consequences of war. His personal struggles and challenges lead to a change in attitude from the young man that left to win the war against communism. A well made movie, and good performance from Tom Cruise.



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A squad of US soldiers go out on a mission for revenge, after the death of one of their squadmates. They kidnap a Vietnamese girl from a village, and proceed to rape and brutalize her. Only one soldier of the five man squad refuses to harm her, and speaks out against their actions.

This is a hard movie to watch, and isn't light viewing with the family over afternoon tea. But the events in this movie show a very real side to human behavior that shouldn't be ignored. Starring Sean Penn, Michael J. Fox, John C. Reilly, John Leguizamo, Don Harvey, and Thuy Thu Le.


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Suggest by Orpheus Anathema

A Vietnam veteran goes to a sleepy town to reunite with one of his fellow soldiers. An overzealous Sheriff starts a chain reaction by arresting and abusing former special forces soldier Johnny Rambo just to prove a point. After escaping prison, Rambo goes on a quest for revenge, unable to separate the horrors of his past in Vietnam with his present. This is a post-Vietnam War story with an important correlation with the traumas soldiers encounter on the field, and how it continues to haunt them after the fighting has ended. Starring Sylvester Stallone, Brian Dennehy, and Richard Crenna.




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People who added this item 1211 Average listal rating (659 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.5
After getting two suggestions, both from Orpheus Anathema, and from Severin Severin, I guess I can't leave this one out.

Jacob's Ladder is a difficult movie to describe. It follows along a stream of consciousness, some of which takes place in Vietnam. Actually, it's somewhere around three minutes of the movie. However, the movie does address the use of experimental psychotropic drugs on soldiers, and that's a different aspect of the war than the other movies on this list.





Jacob's Ladder is really not a war movie. But it's still a movie worth watching.
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Lt. Colonel Moore leads his men of the 7th Air Cavalry to a landing zone, and are soon ambushed by superior numbers of Vietnamese soldiers. The intense battle leaves high casualties on both sides of the war.





This movie focused less on the picture of the overall war, and more on the bravery of the United States soldiers who fought in the prolonged battle.





This movie is definitely not an anti-war film, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it a pro-military film either. I'm curious to know how a non-American views this film.

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These are some of the memorable Vietnam War movies, many of them made in the 1980's.

This was the war of my father's generation. What seemed at first as a political crusade against communism ended as a public relations nightmare and human rights disaster. A war widely covered and broadcasted by the media, Americans at home could watch film footage from Vietnam photographed just days earlier. The horrors of war and rising numbers of American casualties eventually turned the opinion of American voters against the war. Political figures of today, sociologists, and historians still disagree on the merits and aberrations of the conflict.

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Comments

Posted: 5 years, 5 months ago at Dec 22 10:32
I'm on the fence with Rambo. Doesn't the events of Rambo (First Blood II) take place after the Vietnam War? If I have the plot correct, he goes back to rescue some POWs. The plot line of the first movie takes place after the war, so I'm not sure if a postwar movie counts. I'll read up on the plot.
Posted: 5 years, 5 months ago at Dec 22 10:39
Great list! I suggest Coming Home (1978).
Edit: 5 years, 5 months ago
Posted: 5 years, 5 months ago at Dec 22 10:45
As for Jacob's Ladder, I did think about that one. I get the feeling that the backdrop of the Vietnam War was used as a canvas to tell a different kind of story. When I watched Jacob's Ladder, I felt like the movie isn't really about the war. It's about mortality, fear, acceptance, and loss.
Posted: 5 years, 5 months ago at Dec 22 10:49
I'll look into Coming Home. I'm going to have to read a little about it, because I haven't watched it.
Posted: 5 years, 5 months ago at Dec 23 5:01
Superb list. I've always thought the Vietnam war made for the best movies, even better than WWI or WWII. I also think you should put Jacob's Ladder on the list because even if it was a hallucination, he was still dreaming it all while he was in Vietnam. Plus it's a reference to the mental trauma a lot of veterans sustained. Maybe you could add Forrest Gump, because a large part of his life is influenced by the war even though the film is not wholly about it.
Posted: 5 years, 4 months ago at Dec 31 6:23
A great list, Joseph! It never amazed me that so many films have been based on, or around, that conflict; what does is the simple fact that so many of them are so well done. As you said, it's a subject that was, and is still, extremely debatable.

I have a couple of suggestions that you might take a look at.

Bat*21 deals w/ the lone survivor of a US observation plane, shot down in enemy territory who must make his own way out to safety. His only link w/ home is another recon pilot, via radio, who leads him out...all the while, his radio transmissions are heard by the enemy and he knows it.

The other is The Siege of Firebase Gloria. It takes place at the start of the Tet offensive and centers on the siege and defense of the firebase, which is ultimately a lose/lose situation for both sides.

I agree with Severin. This conflict does make for the best movies. You can create a heroic film using any period or war but the Vietnam conflict certainly provides the ingredients for the most visceral, psychological and traumatic of inspections.

Again, a fine list!
Posted: 5 years, 1 month ago at Mar 30 10:39
Trumps my Vietnam war movie list! Nice one!

The Siege of Firebase Gloria, Rescue Dawn and Tigerland are goodens as well.
Posted: 5 years, 1 month ago at Mar 30 11:18
Great list!
Posted: 4 years, 12 months ago at May 28 23:45
bravo
Posted: 3 years ago at Apr 28 2:18
The Siege of Firebase Gloria!!
Posted: 7 months, 3 weeks ago at Oct 6 4:55
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