The Vietnam War: Miniseries (2017)

The Vietnam War

Critics Consensus

The Vietnam War revisits a dark chapter in American history with patience, grace, and a refreshing -- and sobering -- perspective informed by those who fought.



Critic Ratings: 47


Audience Score

User Ratings: 577
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Air date: Sep 17, 2017
Air date: Sep 18, 2017
Air date: Sep 19, 2017
Air date: Sep 20, 2017
Air date: Sep 21, 2017
Air date: Sep 24, 2017
Air date: Sep 25, 2017
Air date: Sep 26, 2017
Air date: Sep 27, 2017
Air date: Sep 28, 2017

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Critic Reviews for The Vietnam War Miniseries

All Critics (47) | Top Critics (24)

An excellent 10-part documentary series about the Vietnam War.

Dec 26, 2017 | Full Review…

I ended up crying during Kushner's retelling, and also about a half-dozen other times while watching The Vietnam War.

Sep 18, 2017 | Full Review…
Top Critic

... The Vietnam War boldly and bravely stands its ground and almost assuredly will stand the test of time.

Sep 18, 2017 | Full Review…
Top Critic

PBS's The Vietnam War is another masterpiece by Burns and Novick. It's powerful proof of something Burns once said -- history doesn't repeat itself, but human nature never changes.

Sep 17, 2017 | Full Review…
Top Critic

A must-watch: The most important TV program of the year.

Sep 17, 2017 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
Top Critic

As the world once again faces uncertain times, The Vietnam War challenges an entire nation to examine the sources of its enmity and not repeat catastrophes so recent that those directly affected by it can still lend their voices to the warning.

Sep 18, 2017 | Rating: A | Full Review…
Top Critic

Rewatchable itchingly often.

Mar 13, 2018 | Full Review…

The Vietnam War covers a lot, but never forgets the human element. [Full review in Spanish]

Oct 5, 2018 | Full Review…

Hollywood should approach the reason of Vietnam with a comprehensive overproduction of the political, economic, social and ideological aspects collected in the magnificent documentary by Burns and Novick. [Full Review in Spanish]

Sep 23, 2018 | Full Review…

There have been vivid Vietnam movies, but don't kid yourself: the 'horror' of Apocalypse Now is escapist stuff next to the implacable record of the Burns/Novick movie.

Aug 20, 2018 | Full Review…

Those who fought in the war and those who fought against it will certainly want to watch this series.

Apr 16, 2018 | Full Review…

Burns and Novick are great researchers, but they've outdone themselves.

Jan 16, 2020 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Vietnam War: Miniseries

  • Oct 28, 2019
    Absorbing and non sensational. Illustrates perfectly how documentaries need to be conducted.
  • Oct 14, 2019
    It's hard to imagine that a more thorough and emotive documentary on war has ever been created. The Vietnam War is made unforgettable by its interviewees and the slow, tense unraveling of their stories. Many of the historical elements of this documentary are well recorded elsewhere, but for many it is a blessing to be given a dedicated chronology of events throughout the series, beginning at French occupation in Indochina up to the present day. History comes alive through the interviewees. Irrespective of what side they fought on, there is a thread of humanity that runs through every person who speaks in the documentary. The viewer becomes intimately connected with these people and their stories because they return in every episode. We don't just hear about the chaos and fear of a jungle firefight, we hear from their families, the Thanksgiving audio recordings and how veterans tried to live with the effects of the war once they returned home. Burns and Novick do not privilege American tragedy and give airtime to North and South Vietnamese alike, as well as civilians, journalists, advisers and families. It is impossible not to share in the therapeutic retelling of these stories, especially the US veterans. We become so intimately connected with many of the interviewees that towards the end of the documentary there's great suspense to see if a happy ending is possible for someone, anyone. It's a credit to the filmmakers that they tie in these stories so well with the larger themes of warcraft, politics and civilian protest. The documentary also does well to place Vietnam in the context of the Cold War, the 1960s and changes in American society, without ever losing focus on Vietnam. This is a documentary about the Vietnam War, but more than that it is a documentary about people and their struggle to survive and do what they think is right. By the end of the series, you will not be able to stop thinking about those who were involved and how their lives would forever be shaped by Vietnam.
  • Jun 10, 2019
    Harrowing and deeply tragic. A truly emotional depiction of the war.
  • Mar 29, 2019
    A perfect documentary series. The Vietnam War explores the American-Vietnam conflict from a myriad of angles while keeping the viewer involved with some spectacular editing, resulting in an exhaustive narrative with a gripping pace.
  • Mar 06, 2019
    An absolutely stunning, thorough and unbiased look at the Vietnam War. Ken Burns is a master documentarian who creates magnificent documentaries. The run-time looks daunting when you're deciding whether to invest your time into watching, and imo it goes by really fast due to how engrossing the material is that's presented. This is the brutal truth of what led to the war, what occurred during the war and how awful the end of the war was executed. There were simply too many mistakes upon mistakes which snowballed into inefficiency and a war fought solely due to public perception. Take the time to learn about what happened during this tragic time. This should be required viewing for American History courses. Up next, I'm now looking forward to his documentary re World War 2.
  • Dec 10, 2018
    The most comprehensive documentary produced on Vietnam War. A Must Watch documentary on US politics. Betrayal of US citizens and Vietnamese citizens by their leaders and their governments. Exceptional directing and narration!!
  • Nov 26, 2018
    Inspired and beautifully balanced. It is, after all a Ken Burns documentary.
  • Oct 07, 2018
    An incredibly well told history lesson When people think about war, they should never see with the simplistic eyes of the Second World War, or the American Civil War, or the long gone wars of the past. They should think loud and clear about this one, messy, wrong and meaningless, and how well told that lesson is sent through this documentary's eyes.
  • Sep 19, 2018
    Love Ken Burns’ docs - factual historical information intertwined with varying personal experiences & perspectives. Great footage & music that captures the charged emotions of the time!
  • Sep 17, 2018
    This is the sort of documentary that I wish a teacher would've shown to me back when I was in school. It would have gotten my full attention and curiosity not only for this particular subject but for history in general. There are just things that a boring textbook can't convey like the deeply emotional personal narrative of the survivors, for example. Even weeks after finishing the last episode I still find myself thinking about certain accounts, revelations, or crucial dates. It's an 18-hour experience that captivated me from the very beginning and it set the standard for how such a documentary should be made. The makers did an impeccable job by starting all the way back to the mid-19th Century during the time of French colonialism and showing how America got involved in Vietnam in the first place. They then continue to highlight both sides or parties of the war and give each of them enough screen time to tell the audience their part of the story. That way you get a good understanding of why they fight or, equally as important, why they choose not to fight. The documentary, obviously, dives headfirst into the many mistakes that were made along the way. I could only shake my head in disbelief at the fact that countless lives were lost, because of the stupid decisions of one person or a small group. In most cases, these people had no idea what it's like to be in the shoes of their soldiers or the innocent people who were indifferently seen as casualties of war. It's a harrowing tale told in a brutal, truthful, and visceral manner.

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