Ken Burns' new documentary: The Vietnam War

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by riverclown, Aug 20, 2017.

  1. beccabear67

    beccabear67 Musical Omnivore

    Location:
    Victoria, Canada
    Episode 1 covering 1858-1961 was really good, a sort of deluxe illustrated cliff notes of the whole tangled up mess up to Kennedy's inauguration day... but it does intercut glimpses of the late '60s, otherwise I might recommend it as the one part that would be worth everyone seeing, but some might want to avoid seeing late '60s film, I'm not sure. I learned some things about the pre-history, about DeGaulle and the British in relation to 'French Indochina' after WWII. I already knew about the OSS posing with Ho during the war.

    PBS Detroit ran a great program about various gold star family members and MIAs right before, and then after showing episode 1 again there will be that Dick Cavett stuff.
     
  2. PonceDeLeroy

    PonceDeLeroy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland
    Not a political point. Just a comment on the variety of perspectives. The best quote for me tonight was from the Vietnamese guy who said in war there are no winners and losers. Only destruction. If you weren't there, then you might believe in winning and losing wars. For the people who live it, it's destruction. I even forget which side he was on. Most likely Viet Minh.
     
  3. 4xoddic

    4xoddic Forum Resident

    Ho's letters to Truman, never delivered by OSS, saying we believe in much the same things was news to me.

    As I watched, I found myself wondering why the scenes from the 60s kept popping up in the 40-50s timeline. Some scenes may have depicted a trend in a story arc over time. It became an unsettling experience. I saw those scenes on TV over dinner . . . I wanted to know the lead up, why? Burns has done a good job of leaving me with what might've been the first thought in most GI's minds, why?
     
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  4. riverclown

    riverclown Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Bradenton, FL
    Even if the letters had been delivered to Harry I doubt it would have made much difference. High-school-educated Harry relied on his advisors and they were all staunch hyper-anti-communists. I don't think this is political, it's more historical --- 70 years ago.
     
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  5. beccabear67

    beccabear67 Musical Omnivore

    Location:
    Victoria, Canada
    That was a bit shocking to me that such letters weren't at least shown to Truman. I didn't know that part either, but had read something about Ho Chi Minh having written some kind of free Vietnam constitution early on based on the U.S. constitution. The killing of that Dewey on the way to the airport by the Viet Minh was a major blunder on their part. The other apparently more devoutly communist leader attacking his own people seals things more firmly perhaps, and Diem executing hundreds of people simply suspected of being Viet Minh or Cong. Even all sorts of seemingly small oversights and errors can really snowball over time contributing to a general 'fubar'. Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson all have quotes about how dubious they were of a military solution or any rewards, and yet they still felt they had to back and to commit.
     
  6. Scopitone

    Scopitone Inveterate Skipper

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Watched it with my dad - who was an Army MP in Saigon in '71-72 (I was born in '73). We both learned a great deal about the pre-US era.
     
  7. jjh1959

    jjh1959 Forum Resident

    Location:
    St. Charles, MO
    You may be right that it might not have made much or any difference, but you are vastly under-rating Harry Truman's grasp of world issues. Many extremely well-educated people around Truman (including his Groton and Harvard-educated Secretary of State Dean Acheson) were more than impressed by Truman's political and educational acumen. Truman didn't just echo his advisors.
     
  8. The Panda

    The Panda Forum Mutant

    Location:
    Marple, PA, USA
    I learned a lot. really enlightening. The Ho letters to Truman are a real head scratcher.
    I just picture some low level dweeb thinking to himself 'Na, no one cares about this guy and his country. Why shake things up?'
    It was good to learn the debacle the French got themselves into in more detail.

    I didn't get the connectivity between the 'flash-aheads' except maybe as a bit of foreshadowing.
     
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  9. riverclown

    riverclown Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Bradenton, FL
    My reading on the subject leads me to believe Truman has been vastly overrated as president, and he made several decisions (which FDR would have avoided) that pretty much mucked things up for the rest of the century and longer. But we can agree to disagree. :)
     
  10. Lightworker

    Lightworker Forum Resident

    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    I wonder what those decisions could possibly be? My guess is that they don't involve Japan.
     
  11. jjh1959

    jjh1959 Forum Resident

    Location:
    St. Charles, MO
    I'm not looking to agree or disagree about anything. I don't know what you're reading that leads you to believe that, but unless you're reading extremely slanted writings, Truman has not been considered over-rated. You may not agree with that which is perfectly fine, but in the last six decades since Truman left office, his presidency has been well-regarded. That doesn't mean he didn't make mistakes, or that there weren't difficult situations to deal with. But referring to "High school Harry" doesn't really offer evidence of objectivity.
     
  12. riverclown

    riverclown Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Bradenton, FL
    Correct. They don't involve Japan. (And not race either - he made some good decisions in that regard.)
     
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  13. Lightworker

    Lightworker Forum Resident

    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    Some of the most accomplished and highly intelligent people that I've ever met were not college graduates or had no college.
    Some of my most closed-minded, ineffective and clueless colleagues have had advanced degrees from prestigious institutions.
    "Academic credential elitism" reflects more on the insecurity of its adherents...and perhaps their regret and
    residual bitterness over their crushing student loan debt.
     
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  14. Metralla

    Metralla Joined Jan 13, 2002

    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    A good episode that set the stage for what was to follow. Good post above (#80) by beccabear67.
     
  15. beccabear67

    beccabear67 Musical Omnivore

    Location:
    Victoria, Canada
    There was also that letter circa 1919 Paris from Ho to Woodrow Wilson that didn't get passed on. The Episode title was Deja Vu; showing how the same thing would happen again or at least rhyme with something before. I think the '60s vignettes were part of that framework, French soldiers torching villages in the late '40s or early '50s followed by a bit of color film from the '60s operations.

    I kind of would put the finger on DeGaulle at this point. France has just been freed and he is strutting about opportunistically having simply survived but wants to keep people in SE Asia in their place, sheesh! Then later this guy who (backed by some British) kept the grip on Vietnam etc. goes and gives a Vive La Quebec Libre! speech in Canada (not to say the Eastern Anglos weren't treating people there crappily mind you). I don't know, people criticize McArthur and Eisenhower but I think DeGaulle was a major puffed up strutting bag of hot air if there ever was one. :) I'd also say Woodrow Wilson was severely compromised and that obviously McNamara was the architect of the escalations under Johnson and Johnson should have found someone else (maybe with less desk experience) fairly quickly. I do think communism is a kind of evil, though I can see how attractive the promises would be, especially to people who've been stepped on (of course most of them go on to get stepped on, even harder, by the eventual successful power-grabbers of whatever communist branch ends up on top).

    I hope I'm not crossing any political rhetoric limit, I'm open to being wrong about figures of history I never met of course, and yes, like the Viet Minh survivor guy said, pretty much everyone lost something basically. Shockingly there are still some MIA cases unresolved after all this time. Episode 2 tonight. More things lost to ponder over. :cry:
     
  16. The Panda

    The Panda Forum Mutant

    Location:
    Marple, PA, USA
    I read a hefty Churchill bio and DeGaulle comes off as bad as you say.
    Churchill thought DeGualle was mad sometimes.
     
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  17. Ghostworld

    Ghostworld Forum Resident

    Location:
    US

    Interesting. Most of the dummies I know went to high school only. It's kind a hard to believe that the concept of "education " Can be blown off as ineffective human pursuit.
     
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  18. Leviethan

    Leviethan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR
    My wife and I watched episode one last night. I thought the editing was masterful. I'll admit to having zero knowledge of the French occupation and war before last night. Deja Vu indeed.
     
  19. MRamble

    MRamble Forum Resident

    Is there a full schedule of the all future episodes that will air?
     
  20. audiomixer

    audiomixer As Bald As The Beatles

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  21. audiomixer

    audiomixer As Bald As The Beatles

    Yes, war is totally about destruction.
     
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  22. Borgia

    Borgia Forum Resident

    Location:
    Arkansaw
    Excellent program last night. I knew about some of this stuff, having read a lot about Vietnam, but it was still eye-opening.
     
  23. PonceDeLeroy

    PonceDeLeroy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland
    I thought about my post afterward. There definitely are winners and losers of war in some cases, changing the course of history. I shudder to think what (if) this world would be if Hitler had won.

    I think of the Vietnamese man's comments today more like those of the old man at the end of The Magnificent 7, the original movie with Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen. "Only the farmers have won. They are like the land." The gunmen, they all have lost.
     
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  24. dougotte

    dougotte Vague Waste of Space-Time

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    I'm watching the first segment as recorded from WETA (DC area). It's in stereo. Is that correct, or was there a technical flub by the channel?
     
  25. audiomixer

    audiomixer As Bald As The Beatles

    It should be in stereo.
     

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