homeaboutarchives + tagsshopmembership!
aboutarchivesshopmembership!
aboutarchivesmembers!

kottke.org posts about Vietnam War

The Vietnam War documentary series by Ken Burns

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 09, 2017

Together with Lynn Novick, filmmaker Ken Burns, who has previously made long documentary films on The Civil War and World War II, has made a film about perhaps the most controversial and contentious event in American history, The Vietnam War. The film runs for 18 hours across 10 installments and begins on September 17 on PBS.

David Kamp interviewed Novick and Burns for Vanity Fair and proclaims the film a triumph:

I watched the whole series in a marathon viewing session a few days before meeting with the filmmakers — a knock-you-sideways experience that was as enlightening as it was emotionally taxing. For all their unguarded anxiety about doing the war justice, Burns and Novick have pulled off a monumental achievement. Audiovisually, the documentary is like no other Burns-branded undertaking. Instead of folksy sepia and black-and-white, there are vivid jade-green jungles and horrific blooms of napalm that explode into orange and then gradually turn smoky black. The Vietnam War was the first and last American conflict to be filmed by news organizations with minimal governmental interference, and the filmmakers have drawn from more than 130 sources for motion-picture footage, including the U.S. networks, private home-movie collections, and several archives administered by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The series’s depiction of the Tet offensive, in which the North Vietnamese launched coordinated attacks on the South’s urban centers, is particularly and brutally immersive, approaching a 360-degree experience in its deft stitching together of footage from various sources.

The sound and music promises to thrill as well. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (who did the scores for The Social Network, Gone Girl, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) provided original music to supplement popular music contemporary to the time. They even got The Beatles.

Then there’s all that popular music from the 60s and 70s: more than 120 songs by the artists who actually soundtracked the times, such as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, the Animals, Janis Joplin, Wilson Pickett, Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds, the Rolling Stones, and even the ordinarily permissions-averse and budget-breaking Beatles. Of the Beatles, Novick noted, “They basically said, We think this is an important part of history, we want to be part of what you’re doing, and we will take the same deal everybody else gets. That’s kind of unprecedented.”

I’m very much looking forward to this.

Nixon sabotaged Vietnam peace talks

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 16, 2013

In 1968, Richard Nixon, then a candidate for President, used backchannel negotiations to scuttle peace talks that may have ended the Vietnam War. Nixon was afraid an end to the war meant an end to his campaign.

By the time of the election in November 1968, LBJ had evidence Nixon had sabotaged the Vietnam war peace talks — or, as he put it, that Nixon was guilty of treason and had “blood on his hands”.

The war went on for seven more bloody years, most of them under Nixon’s watch. Shameful.

Arresting collection of Vietnam War photography

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 16, 2012

A little late for Veteran’s Day, but this is a great collection of photography from Vietnam. These two stick out for me (both photos by Horst Faas):

Vietnam War 01

Vietnam War 02

Some images NSFW and may be disturbing, etc. (via @Colossal)

The girl from the famous Vietnam napalm photo

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 05, 2012

One of the most memorable images of the Vietnam War is Nick Ut’s photo of a naked Kim Phuc running from her just-napalmed village.

Nick Ut Vietnam

I’ve seen that photo hundreds of times but I had no idea that video footage of the event also exists. In this clip shot by Alan Downes and Le Phuc Dinh, you see the napalm dropped on the village and then a bunch of people, Phuc among them, come running down the road. [Warning, this footage is graphic…severe burns and burnt skin hanging off of young children.]

Wow. Ut won the Pulitzer for the photo but Phuc took much longer to make her peace with the image.

The photo was famous, but Phuc largely remained unknown except to those living in her tiny village near the Cambodian border. Ut and a few other journalists sometimes visited her, but that stopped after northern communist forces seized control of South Vietnam on April 30, 1975, ending the war.

Life under the new regime became tough. Medical treatment and painkillers were expensive and hard to find for the teenager, who still suffered extreme headaches and pain.

She worked hard and was accepted into medical school to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. But all that ended once the new communist leaders realized the propaganda value of the “napalm girl” in the photo.

She was forced to quit college and return to her home province, where she was trotted out to meet foreign journalists. The visits were monitored and controlled, her words scripted. She smiled and played her role, but the rage inside began to build and consume her.

“I wanted to escape that picture,” she said. “I got burned by napalm, and I became a victim of war … but growing up then, I became another kind of victim.”

Phuc now lives in Ontario with her husband and has two children.