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Old July 13th, 2017, 02:58 PM   #1

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Vietnam War - New Ken Burns Documentary


There will be a new Ken Burn epic documentary broadcast on PBS in September. I just finished reading an interesting story and review of the series in Vanity Fair.

Being born in 1951, the Vietnam War was a central component of my life, so I am eagerly anticipating another outstanding effort by Ken Burns.

Why The Vietnam War Is Ken Burns and Lynn Novick?s Most Ambitious Project Yet | Vanity Fair

Quote:
WHY THE VIETNAM WAR IS KEN BURNS AND LYNN NOVICK’S MOST AMBITIOUS PROJECT YET

The filmmakers will bring their latest documentary epic, more than a decade in the making, to PBS in September. The pair did their best to avoid tired tropes by interviewing those with firsthand accounts, from Vietcong guerrilla fighters to Army deserters.

Why The Vietnam War Is Ken Burns and Lynn Novick?s Most Ambitious Project Yet | Vanity Fair
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Old September 24th, 2017, 12:33 PM   #2

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Vietnam War - New Ken Burns Documentary


Five eps in and no discussion...

The most striking thing is the amount of new photography & film. The conflict has a fresh look to it. Yes the iconic moments that have been seen before, often restored and audio ‘enhanced’, are included.

As is usually the case, nobody wants to dig too deep into pre 61. The series devotes one eps here & while doing it continually jumps fwd to vet recollections (ones that will later be placed in their correct timeline). It felt like they thought pre US combat history wasn’t going to engage the audience.

They give real short analysis of Diem’s coming to power and how he was a total US creature. The entire foundation of US support was flawed by putting & keeping him and his family in power. Pretty hard to fight for democracy when you have a puppet who’s not even a nationalist.

“a bright shining lie” from the beginning.


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Old September 25th, 2017, 07:23 AM   #3

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Tonight will be interesting to see how Nixon’s treason during the election is dealt with. It took over 40 yrs for all the facts to line up wo doubt showing that Nixon illegally undermined the government by working with a foreign government who wished for him to be elected. And oh scuttle the potential for peace & make a costly war doubly so.


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Old September 27th, 2017, 02:06 PM   #4

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Surprised there is not more discussion on this. Has to be one of the best documentaries I've ever seen. I've been glued to every episode. Typically, you only get the American point-of-view. Burns & Novick also provide the South Vietnamese, Viet Cong and North Vietnamese viewpoints, and back up them with copious interviews of their men and women.

Favorite line thus far was from an ex-Marine from Missouri (I think): "We were the last generation that believed our leaders would never lie to us."

Though the episodes focus heavily on the war, they also spend plenty of time on what was going on in America, placing special emphasis on the anti-war movement. The episode last night got into the Kent State shootings. It was heart-breaking to watch.

I tend to think America is pretty divided and screwed up right now, but what we were going through can hardly hold a candle up to how ripped up we were in the 1960s. Americans were shooting each other, blowing up buildings and there were massive battles in the streets - with the demonstrators always getting the worst of it. During the Democratic Convention in Chicago we looked like a police state.

What has impressed me most about the documentary are the words of the soldiers - on both sides. They experienced the same fears, homesickness, the same hatreds, and the same respect for their opponents. Whereas our press has always stereotyped the North and VC as inferior to the American fighting man, the Americans interviewed had great respect for the enemy. It's been a revelation to see how much they had in common.

Hate to admit this, but the North had smarter commanders. Where we employed a search & destroy strategy that ate up our soldiers, the North and the VC were masters at setting up ambushes and killing our poor boys. Time and time again the series talks about how the Americans expended untold lives taking some numbered hill (the only one with a name was Hamburger Hill), only to take it, and then abandon it a few days. What was the point?

The point seems to have been that the Americans measured success in body counts. What a rotten way to run a war. Shame on our commanders, that they threw away the lives of so many brave young men, with so little reason. In that regard, the series is heart-rending to watch.

One last point. The WW2 has always been deemed to have produced the 'bravest' generation of soldiers. Not true. The Vietnam fighting man deserves our highest respect. The stories of their bravery and dedication to one another are inspiring. On the other hand, it was horrifying to learn how the enemy used our bravery against us. One soldier from the North claimed they'd shoot an American, then wait for his buddies to come out to rescue him and shoot them one at a time. Heart-breaking stuff.

Last edited by Aristodemus; September 27th, 2017 at 02:10 PM.
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Old October 17th, 2017, 02:18 PM   #5

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This series is currently being shown here in the UK on BBC4.
I've just watched the episode dealing with the Tet offensive, so still have a way to go.

It is engrossing, and I've realised that what I knew about the Vietnam war, learned through memoirs and films admittedly, is nothing compared to the depth of information put forward here, with sometimes just a single image or a few seconds of film, or indeed the recall of the eye-witnesses, from both sides.

Their use is nothing new (the 'World At War' documentary did that in the 1970's), but this is the first time I've ever heard the North Vietnamese point of view.
In comparison to the US veterans, they appear unapologetic and bragging at points, but then I have to remind myself that they were the victors. Throughout I hear the words 'the enemy' when describing the NVA/Vietcong, yet there they are, even wearing uniforms, proud of what they did and telling you so.
Its quite sobering to see it (such is the power of Hollywood I suppose).

A very worthy documentary.
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Old October 17th, 2017, 03:57 PM   #6

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It was quite excellent. If you have the ability to record it you might, as it's kind of a two week slightly if you do not.

I really loved getting views of the NVA guys.
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Old October 25th, 2017, 02:24 PM   #7

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I found the Burns documentary so absorbing (five episodes so far) I did a quick scan on youtube to see what other material is out there and came across a treat in the shape of "Vietnam: A television history" (1983) - which to my surprise was much 'beefier' when it came to political background and analysis. The reason for this is simple enough; Burns approach is that of 'a people's history' - a bottom up participants perspective encompassing US soldiers, NVA, ordinary North and South Vietnamese and domestic US war objectors influenced by the Civil Rights movement. With Burns the narrative time is preponderantly given over to the lived experiences of those who fought and suffered while 'high politics' in Saigon, Hanoi, Washington and Beijing is necessarily pared back - not to the point that its rendered unintelligible, but noticeably diminished when compared to the earlier 1983 documentary.
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Old October 29th, 2017, 02:07 PM   #8
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I do agree that the views of the 'NVA guys' are very valuable from an historical point of view and if they have been picked up on this scale in any television documentary before, then I never saw it. The Americans are all basically saying that while we are not ashamed, we were doing something that we couldn't be particularly proud of, whereas the North Vietnamese are all saying the opposite and that yes we were and are proud of what we did.

Last edited by callippo; October 29th, 2017 at 02:09 PM.
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Old October 30th, 2017, 01:13 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgrooms View Post
Five eps in and no discussion...

The most striking thing is the amount of new photography & film. The conflict has a fresh look to it. Yes the iconic moments that have been seen before, often restored and audio ‘enhanced’, are included.

As is usually the case, nobody wants to dig too deep into pre 61. The series devotes one eps here & while doing it continually jumps fwd to vet recollections (ones that will later be placed in their correct timeline). It felt like they thought pre US combat history wasn’t going to engage the audience.

They give real short analysis of Diem’s coming to power and how he was a total US creature. The entire foundation of US support was flawed by putting & keeping him and his family in power. Pretty hard to fight for democracy when you have a puppet who’s not even a nationalist.


“a bright shining lie” from the beginning.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Diem did hell of a good job to deal with Communism, almost peacefully (note:almost!). After him the US killed thousands after thousands Communists each year, in a War of Attrition against Communism.
He planned to attack the US Embassy and killed the US Ambassador because the US wanted to "invade" Vietnam. As the absolute ruler of South Vietnam, his answer was "no".
That's why he was "a total failure". Kennedy wanted fame.
The US has "face" to save too!
After his death, his base of power somewhat gravitated toward Communism.
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Old October 30th, 2017, 09:32 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgrooms View Post
Tonight will be interesting to see how Nixon’s treason during the election is dealt with. It took over 40 yrs for all the facts to line up wo doubt showing that Nixon illegally undermined the government by working with a foreign government who wished for him to be elected. And oh scuttle the potential for peace & make a costly war doubly so.


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What foreign government was Nixon supposedly working with? While Nixon did a number of illegal and sleezy things, I don't see using a foreign government as one of them. Simply because he did somethings wrong, means you can accuse him of everything.

Nixon was not really the villain of Vietnam. He inherited a mess from the previous president, and even Kennedy played a role - by having Diem assassinated, Kennedy permanently weakened South Vietnam. US may not have liked Diem, but the presidentw following him were too weak to get the job done. US may have helped put Diem in power, or might not, but Diem was no US puppet, as his assasination showed - you don't have to assassinate puppets. But it did send a chilling message that any future president had best tow the American line, or they too would be removed.

Ken Burns dpcumentary gives on a relatively short anmount of attention to pre-1961 on Vietnam for a variety of reasons:

1. The US persons invovled, most of the officials and CIA operatives, are nog available for the personal interviews Ken Burns favors.

2. The US actions during that period were not paticularly noble, rather dodgy at best.

3. Most of the US invovlement did not happen until later.

Too bad, because there are lessons to be learned, which based on Iraq, the US hasn't learned very well, or the US learned the wrong lesson.,
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