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Added by Joseph Grey on 18 Dec 2012 09:42
6679 Views 12 Comments

Iconic Movies: The Vietnam War

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People who added this item 3798 Average listal rating (2354 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.4
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?

Joseph Grey's rating:
People who added this item 2543 Average listal rating (1597 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 8.1
Platoon (1987)
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.

Joseph Grey's rating:
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.

Joseph Grey's rating:
People who added this item 1708 Average listal rating (1047 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.3
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.

People who added this item 3988 Average listal rating (2622 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.3
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.

Joseph Grey's rating:
People who added this item 180 Average listal rating (126 ratings) 6.6 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.

Joseph Grey's rating:
People who added this item 1996 Average listal rating (1282 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.

Joseph Grey's rating:
People who added this item 476 Average listal rating (270 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.8
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.

Joseph Grey's rating:
People who added this item 1079 Average listal rating (699 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.2
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.

Joseph Grey's rating:
People who added this item 378 Average listal rating (262 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.1
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.

Joseph Grey's rating:
People who added this item 1568 Average listal rating (1148 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.7
First Blood (1982)
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.

Joseph Grey's rating:
People who added this item 1259 Average listal rating (704 ratings) 7.5 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.
Joseph Grey's rating:
People who added this item 749 Average listal rating (490 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7.1
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.

Joseph Grey's rating:

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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