The Vietnam War obviously marked the spirits. Witness, on the American side, a certain number of cinematographic productions, often spectacular, which are also the imprint of a cursed generation.
Le petit journal has selected 8 cult films on the Vietnam War.
1 – Apocalypse now
1979 – Francis Ford Coppola – with Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Colleen Camp, Robert Duvall, Frederic Forrest
Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1979, Apocalypse Now is listed 30th among the best American films by the American Film Institute. In 2000, the film was selected by the National Film Registry for preservation in the United States Library of Congress for its “cultural, historical, or aesthetic significance”.
During the Vietnam War, the American military secret services entrust Captain Willard with the mission of finding and executing Colonel Kurtz, whose methods are considered “unhealthy”. The latter, established beyond the border with Cambodia, has taken the lead of a group of natives and is carrying out operations against the enemy with terrifying savagery.
Using a patrol boat and his crew at his disposal, Willard must go up the river to the depths of the jungle to eliminate the officer. During this trip, he discovers, while studying Kurtz’s file, a man very different from the idea he had of him.
2 – Platoon
1986 – Oliver Stone – with Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen, Forest Whitaker, Francesco Queen
Platoon is a film whose action takes place during the Vietnam War, which the director himself experienced.
The film won the Oscar for best film in 1987. In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked Platoon 83rd in the 100 best films of American cinema.
It is with enthusiasm that Chris Taylor, 19, goes to war in Vietnam because his father was a brave and heroic soldier, and he in turn wants to defend a certain idea of America in the Indochinese rice fields. . But hardly has he put down his backpack, not far from the Cambodian border, than he discovers that it is with blood, the most absurd violence and the omnipresent fear that he has in fact met. you. Around him, two sergeants with a strong character clash brutally. Barnes takes advantage of the circumstances to give free rein to a criminal sadism, while Elias, disgusted by these cruel actions, tries to put a little humanity in a universe of nightmare.
3 – Full metal jacket
1987 – Stanley Kubrick – with Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D’Onofrio, Lee Ermey, Dorian Harewood
The film is based on the novel Le Merdier (The Short Timers) by Gustav Hasford and the war memoirs by Michael Herr, entitled Dispatches. Its title refers to a type of armored bullet.
The film centers on the character of JT Davis, nicknamed “Joker” (“Guignol” in the French version), a young man engaged in the marines.
We first follow his career in the Paris Island training camp, in South Carolina, at the end of the 1960s. The group of new recruits of which he is a part is taken in hand with brutality by the sergeant instructor Hartman. Practicing a method based on insult and humiliation, he focuses his attention on the rather chubby Private Lawrence, whom he nicknames “Gomer Pyle”. The unfortunate recruit is indeed slow, struggles with physical exercises and has a very limited intellectual capacity (he sometimes confuses his right with his left, has trouble making his bed alone, lacing his rangers, etc.). At the sergeant’s request, “Guignol” takes him under his wing, but Lawrence cannot reach the required level. He then becomes the pet peeve of the other recruits, punished in his place by the sergeant (because of a stuffed donut that the sergeant found in his trunk), and receives a severe beating from them. At first, the correction seems to be bearing fruit. He turns into a particularly disciplined soldier and finally obtains his military certificate. But during the last night spent at the training camp, he falls into madness and kills Sergeant Hartman under the eyes of “Guignol”, before committing suicide with his M14 rifle.
The action of the film then moves to Vietnam, where “Guignol” has chosen to be assigned to a unit of military journalists from Stars and Stripes magazine. At an editorial conference, he clashes with his superior over the magazine’s journalistic integrity. As a result, he is sent on field reporting, as the Tết offensive is in full swing. There he finds one of his comrades from the training camp, nicknamed “Cowboy”, alongside whom he is directly engaged in combat. During a skirmish with a sniper, “Guignol” sees several of his companions being killed. He then finds himself confronted with his own moral limits, as well as the raw violence of war and its psychological effect on men.
4 – Heaven and earth
1993 – Oliver Stone – with Bussaro Sanruck, Supak Pititam, Joan Chen, Thuan K. Nguyen, Haing S. Ngor
The film is adapted from two books written by Le Ly Hayslip on her experience of the Vietnam War: When heaven and earth changed places and Child of war, woman of peace.
In a small village like there are thousands in Vietnam, a young girl discovers the anger of a people, her people. In a Buddhist family which sends two of its sons to war, recruited almost by force by the troops of the north, the Việt Cộng are far from being the defenders of the fatherland that they claim to be. Neither are the Americans and the South Vietnamese government forces. And we have a perfect critique of both sides of this war. Suffering the worst physical and moral humiliations, the young girl flees to Saigon, where fate seems to be hounding her, until the day she meets Steve Butler, an American soldier who falls madly in love with her, at the point of wanting to marry her and bring her back to the United States.
5 – Born on the fourth of July
1989 – Oliver Stone – with Tom Cruise, Brian Larkin, Raymond J. Barry, Caroline Kava, Josh Evans
The film is adapted from the autobiography of Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic.
Suburban New York teenager Ron Kovic enlists in the Marines. During his second tour of Vietnam, he accidentally kills a comrade and later becomes crippled in battle.
6 – Good morning Vietnam
1987 – Barry Levinson – with Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker, Tung Thanh Tran, Chintara Sukapatana, Bruno Kirby
Based on the lived experience of disc jockey Adrian Cronauer, the film is more concept than real story: you put Robin Williams in front of a microphone and let him go wild. Still, he cleverly tackles the theme of death, which is ever-present in the film, playing the role of a man who tries to stay funny despite the ever-increasing loss of life on the battlefield. Robin Williams is truly extraordinary in a role that revealed him to the general public.
1965. It’s been two years since the Americans got bogged down in Vietnam. The morale of the troops drops, and with it the chances of victory. On the rear base of Saigon, in the demilitarized zone, the host Adrian Cronauer comes to take over the morning time slot of the military radio. Far from the dusty formats of the official wooden language, his irreverent comments and his very rock art of musical programming arouse the immediate adhesion of the troops.
7 – Casualties of war (Outrages)
1989 – Brian De Palma – with Michael J. Fox, Sean Penn, Don Harvey, John Leguizamo, Ving Rhames
The film is inspired by real events, such as the incident on Hill 192 and the one recounted in the novel Casualties of war by Daniel Lang: in 1966, American soldiers kidnap, rape and kill a young Vietnamese peasant woman.
Vietnam, 1966. Eriksson, a young recruit, is assigned to the squadron of Commander Meserve, a charismatic but brutal man, barely older than him. During a difficult reconnaissance mission, Meserve saves Eriksson from certain death. Alas, he can do nothing for the radio operator, killed by the Vietnamese during an ambush. Although traumatized, the team is immediately sent back to the jungle. Meserve promises his men to “gift” them a village girl. Eriksson witnesses, powerless, the rape and murder of a young Vietnamese woman. Tormented by the image of the young woman, Eriksson ends up denouncing his companions, despite their threats.
8 – The deer hunter (Journey to the end of hell)
1978 – Michael Cimino – with Robert De Niro, John Cazale, John Savage, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep
The first American film dealing with the Vietnam War, its trauma and the psychological impact it had, The deer hunter was the subject of controversy, in particular because of the Russian roulette scenes, criticized because no case would have been witnessed during this war.
This did not prevent the film from obtaining significant critical and commercial success and winning five Oscars, including Best Supporting Actor for Christopher Walken and Best Picture and Best Director for Michael Cimino.
In 1968, Mike, Steven, Nick, Stan and Axel work in the steel mill in the town of Clairton, Pennsylvania, they form a very close gang. In Clairton, love affairs are going well: Steven marries Angela, although she is pregnant by another, and Nick flirts with Linda who seems to trouble Mike. Outside this tranquility is overtaken by the Vietnam War when Mike, Steven and Nick are mobilized to go into battle.
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Films about the Vietnam War: selection of 8 cult films to see absolutely