Hearts & Minds Reviews

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Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
May 16, 2005
[font=Century Gothic]"Hearts and Minds" is a documentary about the Vietnam war, made slightly after the United States removed its forces from the country and a year before the fall of Saigon. It is an effectively searing attack on the war starting with the fallacies of rabid anti-communism which was a disguise for imperalistic hubris in aiding the French, thus missing the opportunity to aid Ho Chi Minh after World War II when it had the chance. After that, it was a downhill ride to the racism of the combat troops towards the Vietnamese people. [/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"Hearts and Minds" is a very informative documentary, even though I was very familiar with most of the talking heads.(For example, I was familiar with what Clark Clifford, Daniel Ellsberg and William Westmoreland had to say but had not seen footage of the great senator, J. William Fulbright before.) Where this documentary separates itself from others is the unforgettable imagery of the ground-level view of the war. The movie talks to Vietnamese civilians who are not often heard from.(And compare their views to those of the American bomber pilots...) [/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]One last thought: compare "Communism" and "Vietnam" to "Terrorism" and "Iraq."[/font]
Super Reviewer
January 9, 2012
Hearts and Minds is a powerful indictment against the Vietnam War. The editing, though often manipulative, seamlessly weaves actual footage with interviews, giving the film a firm narrative and definite political stance. Itâ(TM)s not objective, but itâ(TM)s certainly persuasive and leaves an impression on you, even almost 40 years after the release of the film and the senseless war.
½ September 27, 2014
Unflinching recount of the Vietnam war from those who lost so much to it. You may be saddened by how little we've learned as a nation over the four decades since this war ended. One of the best documentaries I've ever seen and it comes highly recommended....(extremely graphic combat and sexual content, so parental discretion is strongly advised.)
½ June 24, 2014
Hearts & Minds, released in 1974, was one of the first films about the Vietnam War to have an anti-war message. Before this, movies like The Green Berets were as pro-war as they could get. But then Hearts & Minds was released, and even though I wasn't alive then, I am sure that it changed alot of people's opinions about the war. The film consists mostly of interviews of soldiers, politicians, and Vietnamese civilians, and it shows how it affected their lives. Most of the interviews offer alot of insight into the war, especially with the injured soldiers, but there were a few interviews that didn't really have any purpose, and they could have been left out. The rest of the film consists of news footage of the war, and even though the footage is usually very brief, the imagery is very haunting. Is the film biased? Yes. Does that make the film bad? No. The film is very one-sided, but it came out during a time when that side didn't really have any support. Hearts & Minds is a great documentary, and it is a great example of anti-war film making, and because of that, it deserves to be watched.
March 16, 2014
Sem dúvidas, uma descrição objetiva e crua das atrocidades cometidas contra os vietnamitas na traumática Guerra do Vietnã. Entretanto, o documentário também destaca-se por abordar tanto o implacável imperialismo estadunidense quanto a alienação que impera absoluta nas forças armadas do Tio Sam e em grande parte da sociedade norte-americana - ainda que, claro, já existissem no país diversas organizações militares, políticas e sociais contrárias à carnificina no Vietnã. Grandes elogios para a montagem inteligente e habilidosa - que já deixa clara a posição do cineasta, sem a necessidade de uma narração em off - e para os variados e interessantes depoimentos das testemunhas, agentes e vítimas do conflito. Mas além do seu imensurável valor histórico, "Corações e Mentes" também nos lega a infeliz constatação de que o cenário militar estadunidense praticamente sofreu nenhuma mudança nos últimos tempos, mesmo depois de todos os estragos causados pelas bombas de napalm.
February 27, 2013
I enjoy the political actions as well as the story that goes beyond the original American-born perspective. This documentary shows the Vietnam War from the Vietnamese perspective more then the Americans. The end message is how wrong and utterly destructive wars can be. This film is a political statement and parallels with the similar belief that I had, which is America shouldn't have gotten involved with Vietnam.
February 13, 2013
This movie was an excellent documentary on the war in Vietnam. It is graphic, but it explains so much and tells us everything that happened to those poor people. Also the personal application of some of the soldiers added to the extreme chaos, and gives us a better understanding because they were there.
½ February 5, 2013
It's one of the best documentaries ever made. The reason for that is it expressed the feelings of the whole era. It was very animus to what was going around the Vietnam War.
½ January 17, 2013
Hearts and Minds was incredibly sad but needed documentary. The scenes of Vietnam were painful to watch and the soliders that were in denial about what they did were even worse. Although I think this film was extremely biased I feel like some other opinions would have been necessary to have a full view of the war. Other than that I thought it was an extremely important film to watch for history.
Super Reviewer
January 9, 2012
Hearts and Minds is a powerful indictment against the Vietnam War. The editing, though often manipulative, seamlessly weaves actual footage with interviews, giving the film a firm narrative and definite political stance. Itâ(TM)s not objective, but itâ(TM)s certainly persuasive and leaves an impression on you, even almost 40 years after the release of the film and the senseless war.
September 23, 2011
im eager to see that nice u broaght
½ July 7, 2011
O que falar de um pais que entra em guerra por nada? Nada a comentar sobre... se puder, assistam ao filme!
October 28, 2010
Americans drop CLUSTER BOMBS on countless civilians; HEARTS AND MINDS totally changes the way I perceive US FOREIGN POLICY. After WORLD WAR II it seems that every WAR we've fought has been GENOCIDAL in nature. Civilians seem to be the target in our WAR strategy.

Let's see: at the end of WWII we (we being The United States of America) dropped two Atomic Weapons on Japan:

upon impact, the Nagasaki Bomb killed 40,000 civilians (8/9/1945)

upon impact, the Hiroshima Bomb killed 80,000 civilians (8/6/1945)

so, within three days my country killed One Hundred Twenty Thousand Civilians with two bombs

Since the two weapons were ATOMIC, Fat Man and Little Boy, radiation was released from both devices poisoning and genetically altering approximately an additional 100,000 civilians. In Total, the two atomic weapons caused the deaths of around two hundred and fifty-thousand unarmed civilians.

In Vietnam, my country financed the French Occupation of Vietnam and then began invading Vietnam as early as 1955, we dropped CLUSTER BOMBS, NAPALM, (sprayed) AGENT ORANGE upon civilian villages constantly especially after OPERATION MENU began that included incessantly bombing CAMBODIA. we killed approximately 242,000 civilians in Vietnam.

Apparently since commencing our involvement in IRAQ, an estimated 151,000 to 600,000 civilian deaths have occurred.


The United States of America seems to target civilians from what I'm hearing.

Then my fellow Americans say "Its "All" propaganda and manipulation. . .

How can "it" be propaganda and manipulation when we have the actual films of the Atomic Weapons actually exploding over Civilian-populated Japanese cities and Footage of the bombings in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan . . .

There's overwhelming evidence that The United States of America targets Civilians in its war schema.

--
Don't get me wrong I AM TOTALLY NOT ANTI-WAR; if were weren't in Afghanistan, people with axes to grind with The United States of America would be exploding Nuclear Weapons in our major cities left and right for REVENGE over what some of my fellow Americans DID to their people.

Its just very difficult to maintain my country as being The Good Guy in every War Theater since WORLD WAR II.

and HEARTS AND MINDS crystallized my suspicions about The United States of America harboring genocidal tendencies inherent in its Foreign Policy Agenda.

Genocide: when one race kills an exorbitant amount of people of another race.

---Unfortunately war is necessary, especially now because I suspect a lot of cultures probably resent my country's antics during wartime.

how about: war is not unnecessary these days . . . (note the double-negative)
½ March 30, 2009
The thing is, wanting to end a war and supporting an enemy are not reliably the same thing. It's also not the same thing as not supporting our soldiers. There may well be overlap, but there isn't always. There are some people you can't convince of that--but there are always people who make it harder to try. This is, of course, true of both sides. On the one hand, you got the people who called Vietnam veterans baby-killers. The people who openly consorted with the North Vietnamese government and claimed that all stories of atrocities committed by the Viet Cong were exaggerations at best and probably flat-out lies. Those people polarized the debate. However, so did the people on the other side, the ones who declared that anyone opposed to the war was a traitor, the ones who claimed that all stories of atrocities committed by US soldiers were exaggerations and best and probably flat-out lies. There were, of course, nice, sane people on both sides of the debate, but, as in any contentious situation, it's the lunatic fringe that gets noticed.

[i]Hearts and Minds[/i] seems sane and rational, though I'm told the filmmaker, Peter Davis, read a message from the North Vietnamese government as part of his acceptance speech. So there's that. And it's certainly a biased film--the contrast of General Westmoreland explaining that "Orientals" don't place the same value on human life as Americans being intercut with a Vietnamese funeral and the grief connected to it kind of shows that, I think. Most of the film is intended to show the problems of our occupation of Vietnam. Many of those interviewed are veterans, but mostly the kind of veterans who were protesting the war. The few others are primarily used as contrast.

Now, Westmoreland claimed to have been quoted out of context, and there are those who say that Davis trapped him into making the statement. However, I have to say that I can't think of any context that would have made that statement less reprehensible. I also can't see how anything Davis said would have forced Westmoreland to make that kind of statement. Likewise George Coker, a former American POW, declares that Vietnam would be a very pretty country were it not for the people. Now, I can understand Coker's not being the most happy with the Vietnamese people, especially of course the North Vietnamese. On the other hand, he is committing the falacy of tarring the entire population of the country with the same brush.

It is also true, of course, that the film shows only the American atrocities. We see Phan Thị Kim Phúc, the famous girl photographed running naked down the street, horribly burned by napalm. (Richard Nixon, apparently, believed the photo, and presumably the film of the same event, to be faked.) We see that funeral. We hear veterans talk about the horrible things they saw. But we never actually hear Coker talk about what happened to him. We don't get told how either side treated their prisoners, really. We hear a lot about napalm, but nothing about the Hanoi Hilton. It is a biased film, though I'm kind of curious as to how much of popular culture at the time was biased the other way.

I will admit that I do not much approve of the Vietnam War in retrospect. To be fair, I wasn't there for it. The war is considered to have ended in 1975, more than a year before I was born. I'm not best thrilled with the current war, either, though I'm sure none of you are surprised by that. I like to think that we've gotten better at presenting an unbiased view of things, but I know that we haven't. Then again, hardly anyone in history ever has. We consider our current reporting of World War II to be unbiased, but how often do we consider the perspective of anyone but ourselves and Hitler?
March 19, 2009
A total piece of junk. Propaganda and nothing more.
April 16, 2008
Powerful anti war documentary, beautifully pieced together with outstanding footage used. Very well narrated, excellent interviews. Fascinating.
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
May 16, 2005
[font=Century Gothic]"Hearts and Minds" is a documentary about the Vietnam war, made slightly after the United States removed its forces from the country and a year before the fall of Saigon. It is an effectively searing attack on the war starting with the fallacies of rabid anti-communism which was a disguise for imperalistic hubris in aiding the French, thus missing the opportunity to aid Ho Chi Minh after World War II when it had the chance. After that, it was a downhill ride to the racism of the combat troops towards the Vietnamese people. [/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"Hearts and Minds" is a very informative documentary, even though I was very familiar with most of the talking heads.(For example, I was familiar with what Clark Clifford, Daniel Ellsberg and William Westmoreland had to say but had not seen footage of the great senator, J. William Fulbright before.) Where this documentary separates itself from others is the unforgettable imagery of the ground-level view of the war. The movie talks to Vietnamese civilians who are not often heard from.(And compare their views to those of the American bomber pilots...) [/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]One last thought: compare "Communism" and "Vietnam" to "Terrorism" and "Iraq."[/font]
½ September 17, 2004
[i]Hearts and Minds[/i], the 1974 Academy Award winner for Best Documentary Feature directed by Peter Davis, critically dissects the [i]consequences[/i] of the Vietnam War on the South Vietnamese the U.S. ostensibly assisted against so-called ?Communist aggression? from North Vietnam, and the American servicemen, their families, and the anti-war protesters at home. The familiar phrase ?hearts and minds? (introduced via a President Johnson speech featured in newsreel footage) refers to the political, social, and cultural aspects of successfully conducting modern warfare. The phrase ?hearts and minds? captures the indisputable necessity of winning the allegiance of the native civilian population, especially during a military occupation. Without continued and consistent civilian support, both the local government and the military occupation in support of that regime are doomed to failure.

[i]Hearts and Minds[/i] opens with an almost idyllic scene: a quiet, rural village, presumably in South Vietnam, with adults at work in a rice field and children at play. A false note, however, is quickly introduced: an American soldier casually crosses the village, apparently ignoring the villagers, who in turn show varying levels of disinterest at his presence. The documentary then introduces a former high-ranking U.S. government official, Clark Clifford, the second Secretary of Defense under President Lyndon B. Johnson. Clifford succeeded Robert McNamara in 1968, after McNamara?s privately expressed doubts about the progress in Vietnam led to his dismissal by the Johnson administration (McNamara was ?promoted? to head the World Bank). Clifford is the rarest of government officials: involved in the highest levels of policy-making during the Vietnam War, who publicly acknowledges and accepts his own culpability in the Vietnam War, and recognizes that the premises underlying the rationale for war, and the consequences of those actions, were entirely unjustified.

[i]Hearts and Minds[/i] then briefly reviews the early history of the Vietnam War, from the end of the French occupation of Vietnam in 1954 (according to the documentary, the United States funded fully 78 percent of the French war). A French diplomat discloses that the U.S. offered the use of tactical nuclear weapons against North Vietnam (the French refused the offer). [i]Hearts and Minds[/i] quotes Johnson promising victory in Vietnam, and later, Nixon claiming that the U.S. involvement in Vietnam has been marked by a ?degree of restraint unprecedented in the annals of war.? In newsreel footage, Senator Joseph McCarthy articulates the then conventional wisdom of geopolitical strategy in Southeast Asia, the ?domino theory? (i.e., if South Vietnam was allowed to fall to Communism, revolution would spread to the other countries in Southeast Asia). Everywhere, anti-communism took precedence over democracy promotion. The specter of communism was used to support unpopular, often corrupt regimes. South Vietnam was no different, with the United States promoting a series of ineffectual leaders in Saigon who, by themselves, did little to provide a meaningful alternative to Ho Chi Minh and the other North Vietnamese leaders.

[i]Hearts and Minds[/i] then moves from the macro to the micro level, from idealistic, often abstract government policies and their implementation, to the real-world consequences of those policies, both here in the United States and abroad. Peter Davis interviews several returning Vietnam veterans, including Lt. George Coker, an ex-POW who arrives in his hometown of Linden, New Jersey to a hero?s welcome, but who, over the course of several interviews and appearances, betrays his inner conflicts and doubts about the Vietnam War. With less ambiguity, but with an equivalent effect, Davis interviews Robert Muller, a paraplegic Vietnam veteran, who discusses his initial faith in the ?rightness? of the cause in Vietnam, and then his gradual disillusionment at the orders he was compelled to carry out and his treatment upon his return from Vietnam. Randy Floyd, an ex-bomber pilot, first discusses the pride he took in his professional attitude toward his work, as well as the expertise in his field; later, he chokes back the tears as he describes the growing realization of the human costs of war (i.e., the bombing of innocent civilians and his role in their deaths). Daniel Ellsberg, the former Rand Corporation analyst and State department and Defense department official responsible for the release of the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret, 7,000 page study of decision making in Vietnam from 1945 through 1968, to the U.S. Senate and the American media, discusses his transformation from implicit or tacit approval of the war and its aims, to a vocal anti-war activist (he also movingly describes his relationship with the late Robert F. Kennedy, and his encounter with Kennedy the day of his assassination). After describing the history of U.S. support for puppet regimes in South Vietnam, Ellsberg strikingly concludes that, "we [i]weren't[/i] on the wrong side, we were the wrong side."

In another interview, General William Westmoreland, the commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam (1964-68) remains unrepentant about supporting the Vietnam War and the United States goals and aims in Southeast Asia. In discussing the Vietnamese, Westmoreland engages in a casual, offhand racism (he calls the Vietnamese backward and primitive, lacking civilization, and valuing human life differently than Westerners). Davis contrasts Westmoreland's statements with footage of young Vietnamese children, dressed in traditional mourning clothes, grieving over their dead father. Westmoreland also reiterates his long-held belief in the necessity for a wider, more prolonged war (i.e., the bombing and subsequent invasion of North Vietnam, which most critics estimated would mean, at minimum, another 500,000 soldiers in North Vietnam, subject to a completely hostile population). Like General Westmoreland, Walt Rostow, one of President Johnson's National Security Advisors, rejects the position that the Vietnam War was unjustified, illegitimate, and begun and maintained under incorrect or false assumptions (presumably, even with hindsight, Rostow would have supported U.S. involvement in Vietnam, with an even greater escalation of the war in its early stages).

For a contemporary audience with a limited understanding of the Vietnam War, however, [i]Hearts and Minds[/i] might prove to be a difficult, confusing documentary film. [i]Hearts and Minds[/i] provides the audience with only a brief, cursory introduction to the decades-long U.S. involvement in Vietnam. [i]Hearts and Minds[/i] presumes that the audience will provide its own context for the Vietnam War, its origins and other relevant background information. [i]Hearts and Minds[/i] was made when the Vietnam War and knowledge of the war by a then contemporary audience would be presumed, due to media exposure, reporting, and direct personal experience. [i]Hearts and Minds[/i] will also be disquieting for another, unrelated reason, the real-world tangible effects of U.S. military power brought to bear on those we meant to assist: the documentary filmmakers include footage of Vietnamese dead and wounded, including now iconic images of children escaping from a napalm attack (in particular a young naked girl stumbling into the arms of a sympathetic American servicemen) and a mother carrying her dead child. [i]Hearts and Minds[/i] also shows us another, more brutal side of our involvement in Vietnam: a South Vietnamese general, Nguyen Ngoc Loan, summarily executing a suspected member of the VietCong. This footage, taken by an NBC crew, has also acquired iconic status (as has the black and white photograph taken simultaneously by Eddie Adams, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his photography).

[i]Hearts and Minds[/i] ventures briefly into North Vietnam during the Nixon administration. The footage was apparently taken after the United States renewed bombing North Vietnam in late December 1972, both in response to a new North Vietnamese offensive in the south and to improve the U.S.'s bargaining position vis-à-vis the North Vietnamese at the so-called Paris Peace Talks, negotiations which themselves were begun in 1968. A young farmer?s grief is exposed to the camera (and the audience). He describes his love and affection for his three-year old daughter, killed by a U.S. bomb (his mother also died in the bombing, while his farm animals survived). Peter Davis contrasts this moving footage with President Nixon speaking at a White House event for returning POW's where, to raucous applause from the audience of U.S. servicemen, their families, other government officials, and the media, he describes the renewed bombing of North Vietnam with satisfaction.

[i]Hearts and Minds[/i], however, can be justifiably accused of lacking balance in the presentation of the North Vietnamese as anything except well-intentioned nationalists, who never committed any atrocities or war crimes of their own. Besides the interview with the North Vietnamese farmer, the documentary filmmakers behind [i]Hearts and Minds[/i] refuse to explore North Vietnamese actions during the war, both toward the South Vietnamese themselves who either didn't support their policies or were simply seen as obstacles to their goal of forcing the United States to withdraw from South Vietnam. Although an American POW is interviewed at length for the documentary, [i]Hearts and Minds[/i] fails to mention the harsh, often inhumane treatment of American prisoners-of-war by the North Vietnamese. Nonetheless, [i]Hearts and Minds[/i] remains a groundbreaking achievement in the documentary format. [i]Hearts and Minds[/i] is also a timely reminder the consequences of military adventurism abroad regardless of the intentions, ideals or policies in question. As such, [i]Hearts and Minds[/i] bears an unsurprising (and uncomfortable) resonance with the current occupation of Iraq. The United States was fiercely divided over our continued involvement in Vietnam. It remains to be seen whether the war on Iraq will be equally as divisive.
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