Ken Burns' new documentary: The Vietnam War

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

  1. PonceDeLeroy

    PonceDeLeroy Forum Resident

    This is one to watch again. Statements of where those correspondents are today and what they do were very moving! The South Vietnamese hero soldier who moved to Houston! One of the best!
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  2. NorthNY Mark

    NorthNY Mark Forum Resident

    Canton, NY, USA
    I just finished watching the final episode. I know there is pretty much no way to cover such a complex and divisive subject without offending many people, particularly those with strong feelings at either end of the political spectrum. But I think everyone involved with this documentary did an exemplary job of conveying this painful history from many different perspectives, in a powerful way. It makes me want to dig more deeply into this history and learn even more.

    I found some moments particularly moving in the last few episodes. Tuesday night's episode ended extraordinarily artfully in the way it moved from John Musgrave's narrative about his traumatic return home and near suicide, to the story of the Kent State shootings, and then back to Musgrave as he described the effect those shootings had on him. As the camera panned from that image of a particularly scruffy protester, I was thinking, "Wait--is that him?" And as if if to answer, his name appears, and the image pans out fully to reveal his complete transformation as he says his country needed a wake-up call. With that powerful visual and verbal image burned into memory, the screen goes black and the song we all knew was coming begins playing as a kind of inevitability. I felt like I wanted to go out marching right then and there.

    What moved me most last night was more straightforward--the image of the naked child from the famous photograph as an adult, scarred and holding a child of her own. I'm not sure I want to unravel the complex feelings that caused me to start crying upon seeing that image.

    Although I had seen the footage of the infamous US evacuation from tonight's episode in the past, somehow I wasn't prepared for the utter horror of it--the full, slowly unfolding, hellish depth of the betrayal. Among the few things my veteran Dad has shared with me about the war was his strong conviction that the war itself was probably a mistake, but that the way we left it was absolutely unforgivable. Watching this episode certainly made me very sympathetic to this position.

    While one could argue that it has become a cliche, I was so horrified throughout the first hour that the second hour's footage of the monument, and the scenes of veterans returning to Vietnam, had me in tears from beginning to end.

    I hope as a nation we keep talking about this war, and that we can do so in the spirit of trying to understand--with full generosity--those who feel differently about it than we do.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
  3. beccabear67

    beccabear67 Musical Omnivore

    Victoria, Canada
    McCain's story and what he was part of in the '80s onward in terms of normalizing relations was covered in tonight's final part.

    I remember seeing a piece on the Khmer Rouge's Kampuchean government being recognized and supported by the U.S. while actually the Vietnamese communists were fighting against them and thinking it was insane to recognize genocidal communist Pol Pot (who'd renamed the Khmer Rouge the Democratic People Liberators or some such double-talk business) and that it would've made much more sense to work with the Vietnamese Army. Fubar. Very good to see it covered somewhat in this final chapter, and as Vietnam's own Vietnam! So glad that McCain, Kerry and the other vets who got involved were able to salvage something and get what they could for the families at home.

    Jane Fonda was a dumb kid and like that one protester admitted to as much later on. She was totally used, no big surprise. All hats were dirty in this one so people talking white hats about either side were no less naive. Can we yet learn a better way?
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  4. Paper Wizard

    Paper Wizard Forum Resident

    Jane Fonda was hardly a “kid” when she went to Hanoi. She was over 30 then...
  5. pdenny

    pdenny Blow up your TV

    I've been watching in chunks using the PBS Apple TV app.
  6. GreenDrazi

    GreenDrazi Truth is beauty

    Atlanta, GA
    As has been mentioned before, you can view all of the episodes for free at the web site.

    And they have 4 slightly different versions:
    Broadcast Version
    Explicit Language Version
    Vietnamese Subtitles
    Spanish Language
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  7. DmitriKaramazov

    DmitriKaramazov Forum Resident

    Closing with "Let It Be"!
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  8. DmitriKaramazov

    DmitriKaramazov Forum Resident

    In the last episode, the footage of helicopters being shoved off the Navy carriers into the ocean -- horrific.
    RogerB and PonceDeLeroy like this.
  9. Trashman

    Trashman Forum Resident

    Here is the song list from the Ken Burns series, not including any newer compositions such as the Trent Reznor material. The titles in bold are those songs that were released on the soundtrack 2CD set.

    Episodes 1 and 2

    1. Bob Dylan - A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
    2. T-Bone Walker - Mean Old World
    3. Rosemary Clooney - Come On-A My House
    4. Miles Davis - So What
    5. Bill Doggett - Honky Tonk Pt. 1
    6. Woody Guthrie - Dirty Overhauls
    7. The Ventures - Walk, Don't Run
    8. Ben E. King - Stand By Me
    9. Sam Cooke - Mean Old World

    Episode 3

    1. Bob Dylan - With God On Our Side
    2. Buffy Sainte-Marie - Universal Soldier
    3. Johnny Wright - Hello Vietnam
    4. Phil Ochs - I Ain't Marching Anymore
    5. The Animals - It's My Life
    6. The Rolling Stones - Play With Fire
    7. Donovan - The War Drags On
    8. Johnny Cash - Big River
    9. Barry McGuire - Eve Of Destruction
    10. Burl Ives - The Little Drummer Boy
    11. The Byrds - Turn Turn Turn

    Episode 4
    1. The Staple Singers - Masters Of War
    2. Wilson Pickett - Mustang Sally
    3. Howlin' Wolf - Smokestack Lightnin'

    4. Pete Seeger - The Willing Conscript
    5. Nina Simone - Backlash Blues
    6. Donovan - Sunshine Superman
    7. Simon & Garfunkel - The Sound of Silence
    8. Miles Davis - L'Assassinat De Carala - Bof Ascenseur Pour L'Enchafaud
    9. Bob Dylan - One Too Many Mornings
    10. Simon & Garfunkel - I Am A Rock
    11. The Temptations - Ain't Too Proud To Beg
    12. Wayne Shorter - Footprints
    13. Bob Dylan - Talkin' World War III Blues
    14. The Ventures - Wild Child

    Episode 5
    1. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced?
    2. The Spencer Davis Group - I'm A Man
    3. Booker T. & The M.G.s - Green Onions

    4. Booker T. & The M.G.s - Soul Dressing
    5. Cream - Strange Brew
    6. Pete Seeger - Waist Deep In The Big Muddy

    7. Jefferson Airplane - Somebody To Love
    8. The Rolling Stones - Paint It Black

    Episode 6
    1. Bob Dylan - With God On Our Side
    2. Janis Joplin - Summertime
    3. Jimi Hendrix - Voodoo Chile
    4. Vanilla Fudge - You Keep Me Hangin' On
    5. The Beatles - Tomorrow Never Knows
    6. Jefferson Airplane - White Rabbit
    7. Eddie Harris - Live Right Now
    8. Procol Harum - A Whiter Shade Of Pale

    Episode 7
    1. Simon & Garfunkel - Blues Run The Game
    2. The Beatles - Revolution
    3. Khanh Ly - Uot Mi
    4. Simon & Garfunkel - Anji
    5. The Rolling Stones - Street Fighting Man
    6. Buffalo Springfield - For What It's Worth
    7. Simon & Garfunkel - Bookends Theme
    8. Bob Dylan - Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
    9. Big Brother & The Holding Company - Piece Of My Heart

    10. The Velvet Underground - The Gift (Instrumental)
    11. Steppenwolf - Magic Carpet Ride
    12. The Sandals - Lonely Road
    13. Otis Redding - Tell The Truth

    Episode 8
    1. Led Zepplin - Dazed And Confused
    2. The Beatles - While My Guitar Gently Weeps
    3. The Box Tops - The Letter
    4. Three Dog Night - Circle For A Landing
    5. Creedence Clearwater Revival - Bad Moon Rising
    6. Country Joe McDonald - I Feel Like I'm Fixin To Die Rag
    7. Santana - Soul Sacrifice
    8. The Zombies - Time Of The Season
    9. Otis Redding - Respect
    10. Santana - Waiting
    11. Nina Simone - Come Ye
    12. Bob Dylan - Subterranean Homesick Blues
    13. The Beatles - Blackbird
    14. Merle Haggard & The Strangers - Okie From Muskogee
    15. The Plastic Ono Band - Give Peace A Chance
    16. Cream - Born Under A Bad Sign
    17. Eddie Harris - Live Right Now
    18. B.B. King - The Thrill Is Gone
    19. Bob Dylan - Farewell, Angelina
    20. Booker T. & The M.G.s - Time Is Tight
    21. The Temptations - Psychedelic Shack
    22. Joni Mitchell - Woodstock
    23. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Ohio

    Episode 9
    1. The Youngbloods - Get Together
    2. The Animals - We Gotta Get Out Of This Place
    3. The Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter
    4. Jefferson Airplane - Embryonic Journey
    5. The Bob Crewe Generation Orchestra - Barbarella
    6. Joan Baez - Where Have All The Flowers Gone
    7. Link Wray - Tail Dragger
    8. Ray Charles - America The Beautiful
    9. Fairport Convention - The Lord Is In This Place
    10. Margin Gaye - What's Going On

    Episode 10
    1. Led Zepplin - Kashmir
    2. Jimi Hendrix - All Along The Watchtower
    3. Simon & Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water
    4. The Beatles - Let It Be

    It's hard to think of many non-music documentaries that use so many classic rock and roll songs as part of their soundtrack, but then again Vietnam was the first extended war that America fought during the rock and roll era. So it's not a surprise that so many songs are interwoven with people's memories of the war.

    While I think they generally did an excellent job encapsulating the era's music, what important songs, artists, or groups were omitted from that era? To my ears, something by The Doors would have been appropriate. Even before "The End" became associated with Apocalypse Now, I think their music was something that set the right atmosphere for the era. "The Unknown Soldier" wouldn't have been a bad pick. Also, more CCR tunes (beyond "Bad Moon Rising") would have been welcome, within something like "Fortunate Son" being a song directly aimed at those who escaped the draft due to their family wealth or power.

    What other songs would you have added?
  10. Raunchnroll

    Raunchnroll Forum Resident

    Fortunate Son & Unknown Soldier.
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  11. Raunchnroll

    Raunchnroll Forum Resident

    You mean classic. They became pretty iconic scenes. No one was in them you know...of course the oil and fuel in them was not very kind to salt water life.
  12. Hightops

    Hightops Forum Resident

    Bay Area, Ca
    I only recently discovered who my biological father was. When he was told my mom was pregnant he fled into the USAF...and ended up flying in Vietnam. Talk about jumping from the fire into the frying pan. He never did have much of a family life. Was it due to his war experience? His relatives ain't talking.
  13. The Panda

    The Panda Forum Mutant

    Marple, PA, USA
    My old man: "These Vietnam veterans are all crybabies. Why do they need a memorial? We fought a more important war against a rotten man and country and I didn't hear anyone saying we needed a memorial. They need to post all their names on tis wall? What about all the names of all of the ones who died in our war? The ignored ones aren't them, it's the ones who fought in WWII and Korea. Politicians don't care about us." I won't even get into his feelings about ptsd; let's just say that the slap scene in Patton made him proud of Patton.
  14. And Run Through The Jungle...
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  15. jamesmaya

    jamesmaya Forum Resident

    Mudwest, CA
    Hard to quibble with the soundtrack, but I might have included "An Untitled Protest" by Country Joe & The Fish

    "And super heroes fill the skies
    Tally sheets in hand
    Yes, keeping score in times of war
    Takes a super man..."

    By my count, the artists with the most songs are Bob Dylan (7) and Simon & Garfunkel (6).
  16. numer9

    numer9 Beatles Apologist

    Philly Burbs
    We had very similar fathers.
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  17. It's too bad such people (and I count my 'old man' among them as well) can't open up their minds just a teeny tiny bit and try watching a documentary like this. Unfortunately, with advancing age, people are much more likely to become cemented in their views, as if anything that might possibly disrupt their long held beliefs about things poses a threat to their personal identity. I don't even attempt to discuss politics with my Dad - someone who spends half their day listening to Rush Limbaugh and watching Fox News isn't about to give my views a fair hearing.

    And really - World War II vets are not appreciated? The celebrated "greatest generation" who were justly received as heroes upon their return from a war that in this case was fully justified, and remain celebrated for their achievements and sacrifice to this day? I don't think so.
    prognastycator likes this.
  18. jamesmaya

    jamesmaya Forum Resident

    Mudwest, CA
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  19. Shawn

    Shawn Forum Resident

    I really appreciated the final episode. And I wouldn't mind seeing a mini-series going in to greater detail on what happened across the region (including China, Laos and Cambodia) post-1975 through today. Ken Burns did a great summary but I'm sure there's a lot more to tell.
    turnersmemo and NorthNY Mark like this.
  20. EddieMann

    EddieMann I used to be a king...

    Geneva, IL. USA.
  21. debased

    debased Forum Resident

    I watched the credits on the night of episode six and was astounded that I somehow missed Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile." I was expecting either his "Star Spangled Banner," "Machine Gun" or "House Burning Down," but we got other songs of his instead. Chronologically, "All Along The Watchtower" was so out of place. Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" was unexpected and I'm still pondering that one.

    The songs that others have brought up are all great choices. I'll add Jefferson Airplane "Volunteers," King Crimson "Epitaph," John Lennon "Mind Games," MC5 "American Ruse," Yes "Yours Is No Disgrace," Staple Singers "If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)," Black Sabbath "War Pigs," the Stooges "Search and Destroy," Curtis Mayfield "(Don't Worry) If There's A Hell Below, We're All Going To Go" and "We've Got To Have Peace." The most surprising omission for me was Edwin Starr's "War."

    This was an obvious conclusion, but I wasn't thinking about it or waiting for it. When "Ohio" started playing, the impact was strong and immediate.

    The person who's comments that resonated with me the most through out this entire series was John Musgrave. His convictions (both the ones that never wavered and the ones that evolved) added a compelling perspective.

    I'm glad this thread has remained open because no one I know was willing to watch this. Of all of my friends, family & co-workers - no one. I knew the series wasn't going to "be for everyone" and I made a point of not pressing people about watching it. Who wants to invest 18 hours into something that you know is going to be angering and depressing? In hindsight, I don't know how anyone could come away from it without a better understanding of the reasons and the reactions. Thank you to everyone that has posted and contributed.
  22. PhilBorder

    PhilBorder Forum Resident

    Sheboygan, WI
    I'm curious: is all the material, audio and video and/or transcripts, that Burns collects available for viewing on some kind of online archive? Or has he become the official editor of History on PBS? Should we just trust his judgement on the Vietnam War. Civil War. Baseball. Jazz. National Parks. Etc.
  23. Rubber65

    Rubber65 Forum Resident

    My wife and I just started the series and it's pretty engrossing. I had no idea that there was a British presence in South Vietnam for security reasons after the country was divided in half. I always thought the British stayed out of Vietnam altogether and wanted nothing to do it. Watching the documentary reminded me of when my uncle and grandmother were living in Detroit in 1963. They were both Canadian but my grandmother married and American. When the draft started calling people up, he was eligible to get called, even though he was Canadian. In order to avoid the possibility of getting called up, he skipped the border back to Canada and decided to join the Canadian Forces. A year after he joined, he was posted to Canadian Forces Base, Petawawa. He gets a letter from the American government stating that he was required to come back to the US and enlist. So he showed the letter to his Commanding Officer. My uncle was told not to do anything until the issue was cleared up. The letter went all the way to the top of Department Of National Defense. The Canadian Government calls the American Government and the US insist that he comes back and enlist. The Americans were told NO he's not enlisting because he's in the Canadian Army and we're not getting bullied to discharge him. Apparently, some smart ass Canadian Government Official told whoever was working at the American embassy, you guys are not getting him so go **** yourselves. The letter was archived and the issue was never brought up again.
  24. NickCarraway

    NickCarraway Forum Resident

    Gastonia, NC
    No. Burns would have you believe that jazz stopped evolving after "Kind Of Blue".
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  25. beccabear67

    beccabear67 Musical Omnivore

    Victoria, Canada
    Point taken, though I guess we might all have seen some 'stupid kids' who are adults, or be one ourselves sometimes.
    They had to make a safe landing space on deck for other desperate people coming in after, people versus things is a hard one to find in favor of things though in this case an amazing waste of something so expensive.

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