This incendiary, Oscar-winning doc was the Fahrenheit 9/11 of the mid-’70s and remains an outstanding dissection of America’s war in Vietnam. Director Peter Davis interviews a mix of combat vets and government officials and crucially travels to Vietnam to witness the destruction visited by US bombing.
The crisp editing has a stark, visceral power, with Davis wryly cutting from General Westmoreland declaring that, “the Oriental doesn’t put the same high price on life as does the Westerner” to a grief-crippled Vietnamese mother. Heavy with shame and remorse for his compatriots’ actions, Davis shows how the Americans failed to win the “hearts and minds” of the very people they were supposed to be protecting – and the parallels with Iraq are alarming. As Daniel Ellsberg observes, “We weren’t on the wrong side in Vietnam. We were the wrong side.”