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Vietnam Films Essay

978 words - 4 pages

As thousands of young men traded in their tees and baseball caps for uniforms and helmets, said good-bye to loved ones, and headed off to Vietnam, many questions were left unanswered as to why the United States was participating in another crusade against communism. For the first time, Americans were able to actually see the devastating effects of the Vietnam War right from the comfort of their own home. Marshall McLuhan, author of Understanding Media and prominent media analyst, once said, "Television brought the brutality of war into the comfort of the living room. Vietnam was lost in the living rooms of America--not on the battlefields of Vietnam." Yet for a war that often goes misinterpreted by the media and misunderstood by the American people, the damages that Vietnam had on the troops, the innocent people of Vietnam, and citizens at home are great. The films Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam, Return with Honor, and Sir! No Sir! illustrate the total human cost of warfare, featuring narratives from veterans, both in support and against the war, as well as moving recounts from former prisoners of war. The devastating effects of warfare, as exemplified by the Vietnam War in particular, demonstrates that the human cost of war outweigh any speculated success or losses.
Although all three movies highlight different aspects of the Vietnam War experience, as each one touches upon the common thread of the war’s impact on all people alike. Using actual letters from soldiers, the film Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam, provides a first hand experience of the Vietnam War. The viewer follows along as the movie progresses from the onset of the war to the closing ceremony of the Vietnam memorial. As every year passes, the number of men placed, killed, and wounded in Vietnam appear on the screen, causing the audience to cringe in their seat. How can so much death and pain come out of what was thought was going to be a quick war? From bombing entire villages to watching your best friend die beside you, the emotional and psychological toll the war had on soldiers is almost surreal. While Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam portrays the typical routine for combat soldiers, Return with Honor, presents an entirely different scenario: life as prisoner of war. As a “POW” one was tortured, imprisoned in a small cell, which was ironically once used by the French to contain the Vietnamese, and kept from communicating at all costs. However, despite the Northern Vietnamese attempts to suppress their spirits, the prisoners found comfort in their communication methods of tapping and knocking codes, leading them to make irreplaceable friends who shared the same experience as them. From another standpoint, Sir! No Sir! follows the antiwar movement through the eyes of many soldiers who abandoned the war effort in exchange for underground newspapers and jail time. While...

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