Thursday, September 21, 2017
To understand Ken Burns’ 18-hour Vietnam documentary, listen to the music. The haunting score tells you: This will be a tale of misery. And indeed, Burns and his co-author Geoffrey C. Ward conclude their script by writing, “The Vietnam War was a tragedy, immeasurable and irredeemable. But meaning can be found in the individual stories . . .”
The film is meticulous in the veracity of the hundreds of factoids that were selected. Everything depicted on the American side actually happened. But that the chosen facts are accurate doesn’t mean the film gets everything right. Indeed, the brave American veterans are portrayed with a keen sense of regret and embarrassment about the war, a distortion that must not go unanswered. And the film implies an unearned moral equivalence between antiwar protesters and those who fought.
This isn't exactly unexpected. I thought even his film on World War II was oddly un-something. We did, in the end, actually win that war you know, and save civilization. Just sayin'.