Hearts & Minds (2009) - Rotten Tomatoes

Hearts & Minds (2009)

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Critic Consensus: A powerful, unflinching exploration of the Vietnam War, with first-person stories from both sides of the conflict, Hearts and Minds still hits the mark decades after its release.

Movie Info

The title of this documentary was inspired by the mantra recited by those in charge of the Vietnam War: "In order to win the war, we must win the hearts and minds of the people." The failure to achieve this, coupled with the disastrous no-win policies of the higher-ups, is the nucleus of this film, put together by director Peter Davis in the same manner as Marcel Ophuls' The Sorrow and the Pity. Like the Ophuls film, Davis juxtaposes news footage of the Vietnam war with interviews conducted with its observers and participants, interspersing vignettes of the fatuous comments made by the generals and politicians. The film was briefly withdrawn from distribution when Walter Rostow, one-time advisor to President Johnson, insisted that his reputation had been damaged and demanded that the two minutes featuring Rostow on-camera be deleted. More controversy arose when Hearts and Minds won the Best Documentary Oscar, whereupon the Academy issued a statement--read during the awards ceremony by Frank Sinatra--that it did not condone or advocate the volatile statements made by the producers during their acceptance speech. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Hearts & Minds

All Critics (30) | Top Critics (8)

Not only the definitive American documentary about the war in Vietnam but a landmark political action.

March 17, 2009 | Full Review…
Village Voice
Top Critic

Hearts and Minds is a tough film but it is no mere rehash of sad events. It is always aware of the primacy of man when man's given even half a chance.

May 9, 2005 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
New York Times
Top Critic

A reminder of how the best documentaries can resonate years after their release.

November 12, 2004
Denver Post
Top Critic

We're bludgeoned by the point of view, we don't like the feeling of manipulation we get. Yet there are scenes here of incredible power, even for a nation which watched this war on television every evening.

October 23, 2004 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

It's one of the best documentaries ever made, a superb film about the thoughts and feelings of the era, the whole festering, spirited animus of it.

October 22, 2004 | Full Review…
Washington Post
Top Critic

Davis's film seems as much a prosecution of the present as it is of the recent past; only the names and geographies have been changed.

October 19, 2004
Village Voice
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Hearts & Minds

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.

Jeffrey Meyers
Jeffrey Meyers

Super Reviewer

[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]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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