Hearts & Minds (2009)



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.

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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 The film was briefly withdrawn from distribution when Walter Rostow, one-time advisor to President Johnson, insisted that his reputation had been damaged and demanded that the two minutes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
Documentary , Special Interest
Directed By:
In Theaters:
Rainbow Films

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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.

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

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
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.

Full Review… | May 8, 2005
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

No excerpt available.

October 30, 2004
New Yorker
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.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Hearts & Minds


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.

Connor Simpkins
Connor Simpkins

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.

Cordero Meznarich
Cordero Meznarich

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

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