Hearts and Minds (1974)

During the height of the opposition to the United States involvement in Vietnam, director Peter Davis unleashed this startling documentary. Blending reports from the front lines, the protest movement, soldiers returning home, rows of silent Vietnamese watched solemnly as their villages are burned to the ground, POWs speaking at schools and even a high school football game, David concocts and entire landscape of those times.

It is strange that I recognize the look of the film – the color processing and actual saturation of the color – because it echoes what I’ve seen in movies about Vietnam. City scenes look like something out of Stone or Kubrick. Scenes from back home look like pictures of my hometown from back then. There are visual cues I can’t articulate but get a ‘feel’ for the time period. I wonder if I’ll feel like that about now in 2035.

I understand these past events a little more clearly each time I watch another doc or read another book on them. The messy-ness of it all. So many facets and points of view to reconcile. And the only sure thing seemed to be misery for so many people involved. I try to remember what I was taught in high school about the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution or the Nixon Doctrine. And when I first heard about the Pentagon Papers.