"Life is plentiful. Life is cheap in the Orient."
August 21, 2015 6:59 PM   Subscribe

Hearts and Minds is a documentary about the Vietnam War. It was directed by Peter Davis. It came out in 1974 to considerable controversy. The war finally ended in 1975.

Alternate link.
Hearts and Minds (Vietnam) or winning hearts and minds refers to the strategy and programs used by the governments of South Vietnam and the United States during the Vietnam War to win the popular support of the Vietnamese people and to help defeat the Viet Cong insurgency.
Essays on the film from the Criterion Collection:
A Historical Context, by George C. Herring
Moving the People, by Ngo Vinh Long
The Right Side of History, by Judith Crist
The Human Connection, by Robert K. Brigham
Roger Ebert's review.

Vincent Canby's review in the New York Times.

An interview with Peter Davis.

Also of interest: Anything That Moves by Nick Turse, an adaptation of a chapter from his Kill Anything That Moves. The Guardian's profile of Vietnam's history since the end of the war.
posted by Rustic Etruscan (12 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
A fantastic book on the Vietnam War is A Bright Shining Lie.
posted by LoveHam at 8:18 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thanks for posting this, Rustic Etruscan. I always love when a Mefite posts a link to a documentary on YT that I haven't seen but am interested in. It's easy for me to think that I've watched every documentary on YT that I would be interested in, but folks here like you continue to find good stuff.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 9:19 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

thanks for this...watching now...it's been killing me but there is a documentary out there covering vietnam era u.s. politics (maybe chris marker) but they capture a scene of guys shouting "bomb hanoi! bomb hanoi! bomb hanoi!" wondering if it was this...

On the topic of older documentaries - someone shared an interesting documentary about a splinter UAW group in Detroit called DRUM. It's on YT and called Finally Got The News Interesting topic and great snapshot of Detroit. There is some interesting backstory that I was told...
posted by brainimplant at 9:28 PM on August 21, 2015

Daniel Ellsberg speaking around the 1:17 mark just gave me chills.
posted by brainimplant at 9:35 PM on August 21, 2015

Yes, thanks for posting this. I have heard of Hearts and Minds, but have not seen it before. I just watched it and was completely overwhelmed. It is very good.
It brought back emotions that I have not felt in years.
Boy that General Westmoreland was some piece of work. "The Oriental doesn't put the same high price on life as does the Westerner. Life is cheap in the Orient."
posted by dougzilla at 10:18 PM on August 21, 2015

Westmoreland's comments on the value of human life came up in this comment of mine in a previous Vietnam thread.
posted by TedW at 4:01 AM on August 22, 2015

Saw the film when it played in 1976 or '77 in a major cinema on the boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris.

What stayed with me was the US pilot who (a) described going out on a "combat mission" to bomb some target(s) as a technical challenge and who (b), later in the film, cracked up when he talked about looking at his own kids and then realizing what death and misery such a "combat mission" wrought.
posted by Mister Bijou at 5:32 AM on August 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Great movie. The war was technically over for the Americans in '75 but it is not really over yet. How many of the new american century guys still think we were winning, but withdrew because we were stabbed in the back by opponents at home?

Deaths after U.S. withdrawal
posted by bukvich at 6:37 AM on August 22, 2015

This was required in a Vietnam history course I took.

Also, I recommend Chickenhawk, by Robert Mason, good read.
posted by clavdivs at 10:15 AM on August 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

One of my favorite documentaries of all time. It's clearly biased but in all the right ways. The scenes with the man who came home from Vietnam a hero and spoke in front of school children are terrifying.

Also note that it won the Academy Award for documentary that year.
posted by laptolain at 7:27 PM on August 22, 2015

Also, it's one of the Criterion selections on Hulu if anyone's interested there too.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 12:51 PM on August 23, 2015

People don't really know that the 1973 peace treaty left the North Vietnamese in control of all that they had won in the South, which was basically all the old battlefields the US tried to deny them, from Con Thien and Khe Sanh (both US bases sited to secure the DMZ), down to Ben Het near the triborder area, the mountain wilderness to the east and west of Kontum, the deserted border area between Pleiku and Cambodia (the Duc Co base was taken over by the NVA, as was the site of 1965 Ia Drang battles), and the rest of the country between Saigon and Cambodia.

Granted, the areas the Saigon regime controlled were relative secure compared to 10 years earlier during the Diem/Junta time period (especially the Mekong Delta), but the strategic situation of ARVN was entirely parlous.

ARVN had to defend the 1000-mile arc of populated coastal lowlands while PAVN had the "interior lines" stretching between the border area between Khe Sanh in the North down to the old Cambodian sanctuaries two hours NW of Saigon (they had even built their own highways and bypasses on what was supposed to be SVN territory), and the strategic initiative to strike when and where they wanted.

Nixon was so proud claiming the "Christmas Bombing" brought the NVA back to the bargaining table, but the truth was the Hanoi regime didn't give up anything to get the peace agreement.

1973 and 74 was indeed the "Decent Interval" before the war would resume, without the US.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 6:28 PM on August 23, 2015

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