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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 10:47 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:31 pm
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I'm really beginning to think less of JFK too. The image of him in his cozy New England vacation spot unknowingly setting off the chain of events which lead to the succession of puppet leaders in the North should have done more to undo the goodwill the boomers had towards him.


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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 10:49 am 
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There is apparently evidence that JFK had indicated he wanted to cut troop (oops -- advisor) levels shortly before he was murdered. Nor mentioned in this series. Also not mentioned, the big role the CIA (through Edward Lansdale) played in creating terror (among Catholics) and instability in North Korea in the 50s.


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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:29 pm 
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Valuable corrective to the documentary's description of the war's origins.


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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:15 pm 
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I'm curious, if there's anyone here who has fathers or other relatives who are also watching this who were in the war. Far as I know there are no veterans who post here, but I'm more interested in this perspective because I have both a father who served in Thailand during the war, and a step-father who served in Vietnam proper during the early 70's.


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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2017 8:39 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 7:45 pm
This is great so far (the first half). I'm sure there's a lot that can be picked apart and questioned, and there's been good pieces doing just that. But for now I'm finding it quite addictive, odd as that sounds. I was disappointed to see, upon finishing Part 5 a few days ago, that the rest of it won't be up until Sunday.


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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2017 9:12 pm 
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Since it's been picked up by a few other posters of interest here, I have to say I like how the music is employed. Reznor/Ross employ what they do without bashing you over the head that what you're watching is particularly horrific and/or sad. I'm a bit surprised that they're making more liberal use of the Social Network and Dragon Tattoo scores than I thought they might. They're even using some instrumental versions of Nine Inch Nails songs going back to The Fragile.

Just the use of music all-around aside that is pretty good too. I was surprised and pleased to notice that they make use of a Genesis instrumental ("Ravine" from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway) in episode 4. I thought that was what I heard (didn't realize it until I saw it in the credits), but couldn't make it out clearly enough over the narration and other sound effects.


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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:36 pm 

Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2016 10:43 am
oh yeah wrote:
This is great so far (the first half). I'm sure there's a lot that can be picked apart and questioned, and there's been good pieces doing just that. But for now I'm finding it quite addictive, odd as that sounds. I was disappointed to see, upon finishing Part 5 a few days ago, that the rest of it won't be up until Sunday.


I have been quite impressed with it also. It does a good job of recreating what I remember of that period. I was old enough to be subject to the draft. I can still recall vividly listening to the radio as the draft numbers were being randomly drawn and learning that my number was 3. I was fortunate enough to be able to enlist in the Marine Reserves. That kept me out of Vietnam and in California even though I eventually switched to active duty for two years. Talked to a bunch of guys that had been over there. Things they told such as pushing VC prisoners out of helicopters for fun opened my naive eyes to how horrible war really was.

Kind of weird thinking back on it now. Like some of the vets interviewed in the show, I had grown up convinced that the Marines were the best. Even though I was not eager to go to war or even serve at all in the military, there was no question in my mind that if I went it would be as a Marine. Never even occurred to me to think of joining another branch. Guess I'd watched too many John Wayne flicks growing up.

Just a side note: Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket has the most accurate depiction of what boot camp was like that I've ever seen.


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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 5:56 pm 
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Only through the second episode where he barely figures, but man is flyonthewall right that this serve as a good reminder at the very least that Kennedy was not good at his job.


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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 6:46 pm 
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From the distance that comes with being born a generation or two after their administrations, it's much easier for me to say that it's obvious now that whatever good him and Johnson did was tainted by the war. In Johnson's case it is certainly deserved, but it is not blame he alone should be burdened with though it seems like history has drawn it that way at times. JFK being propped up as a martyr by the boomers, maybe even those who were so fervently against the war, appears so empty and almost cruel in comparison.


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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 7:26 pm 
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I agree though would add, as the film does, that the stink of the Bay of Pigs, which exacerbated his win during the 13 days, and Berlin Wall don't make JFK look terribly well either.


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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:00 pm 
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As this series reaches 1968, it is dealing with things that I remember (and still find very upsetting). :-(


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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 6:19 pm 
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It was damn-near chilling to discover that Nixon upended the peace talks in Paris so he could be elected in '68, a part of history I'd either neglected or just didn't know before. It's parallels with how Trump was possibly elected could not be any more clearer. When people talk about the similarities between the two, I get it a lot more now than I might not have before. The man was just hungry for victory and glory in a way Trump seems entirely more transparent in comparison.

The most emotional point for me was when a couple of the vets discussed throwing their medals away in Washington. There's a picture of one of them doing it while talking about how emotional he was in that moment, that is both obviously moving and also good documentary film-making. Next to that would probably be the very end of the movie and seeing how Vietnam has moved on and flourished in recent decades.

Side-by-side with Twin Peaks, they might be the very heights of television this year as far as I'm concerned.


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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:21 pm 
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I had to rewind my DVR at the point regarding the peace talks and the election because I could not believe what I had just heard and seen.

The part that really got to me was the Kent State professor literally begging the students to disperse before the National Guard could shoot any more of them.


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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:42 pm 

Joined: Mon Sep 25, 2006 1:37 pm
Michael Kerpan wrote:
As this series reaches 1968, it is dealing with things that I remember (and still find very upsetting). :-(

I was 9 that year. I remember it as very tumultuous with Tet, the assassinations of MLK and Bobby Kennedy and the civil rights riots. The one transcendent event was Apollo 8 sending back TV images of Earth while orbiting the moon on Christmas Eve. At least, I think it was Christmas Eve.

This series is phenomenal and not shying away from controversy. But it is sure stirring up some ghosts.


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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 9:21 pm 
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When Nixon lied (which was often), he knew he was lying -- not so sure that Trumps knows or cares about what is true and what is not...

Official lies were what I remember most. The political columns of Hunter Thompson (in Rolling Stone) were what best captured the sheer insanity of the political climate of the time.


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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 10:00 pm 
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Thompson would later write that Nixon didn't look that bad compared to George W. Bush. I find little to no coincidence, looking back, that he would commit suicide shortly after Bush's re-election. He probably foresaw a time in which someone would re-evaluate W in a similar way, which isn't too far from the truth when it came to the reports of his less than positive feelings on a Trump presidency.


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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 11:59 pm 
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I can understand Jane Fonda going to Vietnam, but will never understand why she behaved the way she did while there....


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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 3:28 am 
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I have only seen the first two episodes so far, so I'm still in the French colonial 'Quiet American' through to JFK assassination precursor period of the series, but for such a defining event its amazing that looking back now its like a smaller, easily understandable version of the current climate, dealing with the West's fears over an ideological concept (Communism then, terrorism now) leading to interventionism to prop up regimes that are damaging the indigenous population because it suits the wider international goals (see later Iran, Iraq, Fatah in Palestine, Syria etc, etc) that leads to uprisings and even worse outcomes for the West than letting the original regime collapse by itself might have. The series is certainly working to underline the old adage that a world that doesn't learn from its mistakes is doomed to repeat them, and already has multiple times. And of course that its always the soldiers on the ground, or the actual population in conflict zones themselves (either Vietnamese villages or American campuses), who suffer the most from decisions made hundreds or thousands of miles away.

And why do people even today continue to seemingly unthinkingly (or at least unironically) use the 'hearts and minds' metaphor indiscriminately, without realising how it utterly failed in Vietnam?

I'm mostly impressed by the interviewing with those on the Vietnamese side of the conflict, which is something that only Hearts & Minds documentary seemed to have captured before, and even then it was in a dubbed rather than subtitled form! Though filmmaking-wise I'm still having to get used to Ken Burns working in a period with lots of film footage rather than having actors reading excepts from letters over sepia-toned photographs! Some of the editing feels as if it is trying to do a bit of Adam Curtis-style musical collage (particularly the 'event rewinding' section at the opening of the first episode), which is perhaps not quite as successful as the straightforward interview material in here, but its not too frequent an occurrence!


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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 4:37 pm 
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As a film buff, I can see how watching all of it may make me look at films like Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket and others differently. I'm curious about others that I've yet to see more than I was before, especially We Were Soldiers, to see if Mel Gibson could pull off the portrayal of the general who I was captivated by in just seeing one bit of newsreel on.


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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 8:46 pm 

Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2016 10:43 am
flyonthewall2983 wrote:
As a film buff, I can see how watching all of it may make me look at films like Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket and others differently. I'm curious about others that I've yet to see more than I was before, especially We Were Soldiers, to see if Mel Gibson could pull off the portrayal of the general who I was captivated by in just seeing one bit of newsreel on.

Saw the Gibson movie when it was first release. As I recall it stays pretty close to what happened, but I've never had the desire to watch it again. I would highly recommend instead that you read Hal Moore's book of the same name if you were impressed by what he had to say on the newsreel. Much better than Gibson's film and gives you more insight into his character.

Philip Caputo's book "A Rumor of War" is also good. He's been on a couple of the episodes.

Had to take a break from watching this excellent show was just getting too hard reliving the events of '68 and '69. Bringing back a lot of hard feelings that I guess I've repressed over the years since that time. This is, in my view, the best work Burns has done.


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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 8:51 pm 

Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 5:27 pm
Speaking of Apocalypse Now, the series had no stories of the swiftboat experience, right? Did I miss that?


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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 8:58 pm 
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No. It also didn't talk about Air America either.


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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:57 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 7:45 pm
A few thoughts at the close of this amazing, harrowing viewing experience:

1) Part 10 really drove home just how tragic the withdrawal of US involvement (not only troops) proved for so many Vietnamese. Or more broadly - how when America, with good intentions, leaves a country that we shouldn't have been fighting a war in in the first place, still must grapple with the consequences of that decade-long presence. As much as we want to get out of there ASAP and get the war done with (especially when that war is a failure), the way this happened was horrific for Vietnam. And there's surely a middle ground exists between staying mired in conflict and just flying away and cutting off virtually all help for those who need it. Of course this is something we've seen play out time and again, and most recently with Iraq.

2) I read someone say that the "emotional climax" of this series was in Part 8 with Kent State. I'd agree. No matter how familiar with the matter I was beforehand, that was devastating. Especially (as mentioned upthread) hearing the pleading of a professor for students to disperse.

3) The debate over the Memorial is strange, if understandable... one interviewee said that, besides it looking like a big black ditch etc, it also only listed the dead and not those who served but lived. Maybe a fair point, but it is a Memorial, by design meant for the dead. I understand criticisms of the thing on aesthetic grounds, people aren't gonna agree on something like that unanimously, but I don't see why some people thought it was somehow insulting (just because it's black?) I think it's immense, personally - and immensely moving. Maybe now commonplace, this idea of names upon names, no images, just there for people to look at and touch - it somehow manages to convey the enormity of it all, and the enormity of the loss.

4) I also agree with other posters that this thing made me see JFK in a less positive light, and Nixon in an even less positive light... LBJ, I'm not sure my opinion has changed. I'd simply say that LBJ was about as bad on foreign policy as he was great on domestic policy, but what he managed to do for America in the latter area was so momentous and probably unlikely to happen had another person (especially Goldwater!) been in office, that I almost forgive the former. Or not forgive, but I still would say LBJ is one of the best post-War presidents, along with Obama and Carter (yes you read that right). This is another topic, but the latter two presidents (especially Carter) I rank so highly in some ways more for what they believed and what they attempted than for what they achieved - because so often they were stymied from achieving their goals. And with Carter, it's just a matter of a president who had the balls and the intelligence to speak absolute truth to the public, even if it wasn't what people wanted to hear, instead of lying to them... that I admire, but of course it's in large part what lost him a second term.

5) Burns and Novick did a surprisingly great job here at incorporating very popular and widely-used music, even in the exact places you'd expect to hear them, without seeming cliche'd.

6) The fact that American and North Vietnamese veterans alike can 30 or 40 years later sit down and talk like brothers, and memorialize those who died on either side, just goes to show how trivial the divisions we create between people are. I believe we're truly all, to quote a certain war film, "one big soul," and that coming together is in our nature more than killing each other is. And yes, this hippie nonsense is just as true today with North Korea or with ISIS as it was then.


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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:06 am 

Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2016 10:43 am
oh yeah,

Agree pretty much with everything you've said about this doc, even your assessment of LBJ. Would differ with you over the initial reaction to the Memorial. It is an unusual design. Just reading a description of it or seeing a small model of it one can understand how some would have been unimpressed with it or found its simplicity to be wanting. Most of the criticism was made by those who hadn't actually seen it or refused to see it. One of the biggest critics of those being interviewed changed his mind completely once he actually saw it.


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 Post subject: Re: The Vietnam War
PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:58 pm 
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The documentary on Maya Lin, Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision, is a great depiction of the controversy.

To give an idea of the memorial's influence: It was (I believe) the first memorial to include all the individual names of the dead. Now that is a commonplace feature of memorials, and it's become controversial when they don't include all the names.


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