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The Vietnam War: A Film by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick. Premieres Sunday Sept. 17 on PBS.

Mgoblue201

Won't stop picking the right nation
Jun 6, 2007
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980
The first episode was very similar in content and tone to the excellent book Embers of War. I wouldn't be surprised if that was the basis for the entire episode. Anyone who enjoyed the documentary should read the book. It covers a lot more terrain, including stuff about emperor Bao Dai and the megalomaniacal French general Jean de Lattre.
 

Phrynobatrachus

Neo Member
Jul 7, 2014
228
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I was also a bit annoyed by some of the framing language as mentioned in that twitter thread, going to keep watching though.
 

glow

Banned
Apr 13, 2008
1,654
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930
anyone have issues with sound playback? I can't get any of the video to play with sound.

I had that problem on my Roku when I watched ep2 a little over an hour ago but then it suddenly worked, but now I can't get an episodes to play at all. I'm guessing their servers are getting hammered
 

Spike Spiegel

Member
Jun 7, 2004
13,018
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0
Don't know if everyone noticed this, but after an episode airs PBS uploads a "Featured Film Participants" section to that episode's watch page, where you can learn more information about the individuals they interviewed.
 

EYEL1NER

Member
Mar 20, 2009
7,975
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935
USA
Tonight's episode was really good, especially when they got into the Battle of Ap Bac. I did have one bit where they were about to deliver one of Madam Nhu's quotes where she was mocking the buddhists and it paused for a second and skipped ahead to JFK talking. I don't know how much I missed but it was weird. I might tune in around the same time in the next broadcast and see if I can catch what I missed.
 

firehawk12

Subete no aware
Sep 10, 2007
61,792
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1,160
Toronto/Guelph
Weird that the criticism of the first episode is that it's too concerned about America when the war involved Americans and basically frames their interventions as one of many imperialist fuck ups that the Americans have been involved with since WW2.
 

sflufan

Banned
May 5, 2007
6,841
0
0
The first episode was very similar in content and tone to the excellent book Embers of War. I wouldn't be surprised if that was the basis for the entire episode. Anyone who enjoyed the documentary should read the book. It covers a lot more terrain, including stuff about emperor Bao Dai and the megalomaniacal French general Jean de Lattre.

Embers of War was absolutely superb (Pulitzer Prize well-earned!) and definitely seemed like strong source material for Episode 1.

https://www.amazon.com/Embers-War-E...swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1505786177&sr=1-1
 

EYEL1NER

Member
Mar 20, 2009
7,975
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Weird that the criticism of the first episode is that it's too concerned about America when the war involved Americans and basically frames their interventions as one of many imperialist fuck ups that the Americans have been involved with since WW2.
I didn't get that from the first episode at all. It seemed to me to be mainly about Ho Chi Minh and the French occupation, with brief moments and interviews about the US interspersed after the French did something dumb or awful that showed that the US was going to be making the same mistakes.
EDIT: I actually liked how the first episode didn't have a huge focus on the US.
 

firehawk12

Subete no aware
Sep 10, 2007
61,792
0
1,160
Toronto/Guelph
I didn't get that from the first episode at all. It seemed to me to be mainly about Ho Chi Minh and the French occupation, with brief moments and interviews about the US interspersed after the French did something dumb or awful that showed that the US was going to be making the same mistakes.
I guess based on that twitter thing, the idea was that the Vietnamnese were treated as outsiders or faceless participants in the war that involved them, since it was mostly about the French and the Americans, but yeah, all of that set up Ho Chi Minh and how he ended up leading the war in the first place. Oh well. lol
 

Sunster

Member
Aug 28, 2015
4,219
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"We don't have a prayer of staying in Vietnam. The people there hate us. But I can't give up a piece of territory like that to the communists and get reelected." -JFK

always about the next election. fuck off
 
Sep 1, 2011
30,520
0
0
Alabama
I didn't get that from the first episode at all. It seemed to me to be mainly about Ho Chi Minh and the French occupation, with brief moments and interviews about the US interspersed after the French did something dumb or awful that showed that the US was going to be making the same mistakes.
EDIT: I actually liked how the first episode didn't have a huge focus on the US.

Pretty much.

It wasn't just throwing American stuff in the episode, it was tied directly to the "current" French stuff.
 

Sunster

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Aug 28, 2015
4,219
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And about losing asia to communism**

yep. it just reminded me of The Wire when mayor Carcetti declines a $400,000,000 bailout from the governor for Baltimore schools because it would hurt his chances at being elected governor himself. It's a lot different because at the time people really did believe communism would sweep across SE Asia if it took Vietnam. But that's not the only reason we were there for as long as we were.
 

sqwarlock

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Jan 25, 2013
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505
Arizona
Episode 4 spoilers:

Listening to the Crockers talk about receiving the news about Denton Jr. is heartbreaking. These personal stories always make me tear up in documentaries like this.
 

JackDT

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Jul 11, 2012
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400
So they are holding the last five episodes until next Sunday. Unless you have a PBS account.

Yes I just binged watched 5 episodes in two days...
 

SolarPowered

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Feb 17, 2009
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0
Tonight's episode was really good, especially when they got into the Battle of Ap Bac. I did have one bit where they were about to deliver one of Madam Nhu's quotes where she was mocking the buddhists and it paused for a second and skipped ahead to JFK talking. I don't know how much I missed but it was weird. I might tune in around the same time in the next broadcast and see if I can catch what I missed.
Good God did she infuriate me whenever her smug ass talked or was quoted. The barbecue comparison in particular made me grind my teeth and I'm not even Buddhist. So little regard for her own people. If I were JFK I wouldn't have grieved for five seconds over that shitty regime.
 

bunbun777

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Sep 28, 2009
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Just finished the first episode. Already emotional and very informative for setting the stage. Some of these snippets of interviews are compelling.
 
Apr 18, 2012
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Cannes, FRANCE
Just watched the first episode yesterday. Very informative and incredibly tragic. I learned plenty about our horrible colonial history in french school but Vietnam was barely touched upon. Now I see why. It was really enlightening / disgusting to see what we've done there from a different perspective. At least some people were protesting this shit back home I guess.
 

EYEL1NER

Member
Mar 20, 2009
7,975
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Good God did she infuriate me whenever her smug ass talked or was quoted. The barbecue comparison in particular made me grind my teeth and I'm not even Buddhist. So little regard for her own people. If I were JFK I wouldn't have grieved for five seconds over that shitty regime.
I first learned of how terrible of a person Madam Nhu was when reading about Imelda Marcos. I kept seeing comparisons drawn between them and when I finally read about Madam Nhu, I said "Okay, Imelda Marcos sucked badly but she had nothing on Madam Nhu!"
 

Spike Spiegel

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Jun 7, 2004
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Tonight's episode:



Episode 03. "The River Styx" (January 1964-December 1965)
With South Vietnam in chaos, hardliners in Hanoi seize the initiative and send combat troops to the south, accelerating the insurgency. Fearing Saigon’s collapse, President Johnson escalates America’s military commitment, authorizing sustained bombing of the north and deploying ground troops in the south.

Watch the episode online @ PBS.org
 
Sep 18, 2014
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Just watched the first two episodes. Amazing documentary so far. Really digs deep into what a complex political cobweb Vietnam was and how poor decision making and misguided ideals and hubris only exacerbated helped create that situation. Just a completely tragic and fascinating era and I love how they frame it in the world at large with the civil rights movement and the Cuban missile crisis.

Amazing use of archival footage and photos. And the music is top notch. Can't wait to continue it.

Also I am completely in love with the opening sequence in the first episode. It's like unraveling and unburying the past.
 

Golden_Pigeon

Banned
Feb 5, 2016
3,150
1
0
A critic from the New Republic:

The Insidious Ideology of Ken Burns's The Vietnam War

But even as The Vietnam War reluctantly bows to this reality, its insistence on giving everyone equal weight makes it lacking as a work of historical nonfiction. It also betrays a flawed conception at the heart of Burns's enterprise. Vietnam coincided with and accelerated the fracturing of Burns's beloved monoculture. His documentary does not succeed as history or as a reconciliation of the tribes who have been bickering ever since. It is a requiem for a time that never really existed—a period before the 1960s, when this country was supposedly unified.

link

I have not seen the documentary, so i can't comment on that, i thought it could be an interesting thing to add to the discussion.
 

ponpo

( ≖‿≖)
Aug 22, 2011
19,680
8
0
Tsukuba, Japan
A critic from the New Republic:

The Insidious Ideology of Ken Burns’s The Vietnam War
link

I have not seen the documentary, so i can't comment on that, i thought it could be an interesting thing to add to the discussion.

"His documentary does not succeed as history or as a reconciliation of the tribes who have been bickering ever since. "

Disagree on the first part and is it even meant to deal with "bickering tribes"? As for the requiem part, also disagree. Discussing how the country felt prior to the war and how it begun to change for most people during and after the war is an unavoidable part of discussion but I don't see it as lamenting some lost golden age or whatever.
 

Golden_Pigeon

Banned
Feb 5, 2016
3,150
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Well, he did resort to using force to unite the country, in a war that ultimately led to the death of millions of Vietnamese. So, I guess a 'means to an end' kind of guy. However, it really does feel like he felt his hand was forced.

I really have a hard time getting a neutral perspective on him. I have absolute respect for him because of his intransigeant fight against the french colonial order, but according to who you're speaking with, you'll get a totally different perspective.
 

PillarEN

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Feb 23, 2015
10,871
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Awesome. Starting to watch. Not available in my country so I just use a USA VPN through Opera browser. No BS like Hola. Safe and works.
 

gnomed

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Aug 18, 2010
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I first learned of how terrible of a person Madam Nhu was when reading about Imelda Marcos. I kept seeing comparisons drawn between them and when I finally read about Madam Nhu, I said "Okay, Imelda Marcos sucked badly but she had nothing on Madam Nhu!"
I've only heard her name mention once when covering the subject. What a vile human being.

Never delve deeper into Vietnam history. Diem, his brother and the South Vietnamese government fucked things up pretty bad.
 

Vanillalite

Ask me about the GAF Notebook
Apr 14, 2008
39,999
1
0
GA, USA
Wish I knew if some of the criticism was for the whole show (at least what's available) or if it's just of certain episodes.

I say that as things seem to shift focus and blame goes all around episode to episode.
 

Sblargh

Banned
Dec 13, 2008
11,823
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Wish I knew if some of the criticism was for the whole show (at least what's available) or if it's just of certain episodes.

I say that as things seem to shift focus and blame goes all around episode to episode.

It's a big complex documentary about a big complex issue. I expect reviews to fall short.
 

The Albatross

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Apr 15, 2010
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Bout to start this tonight. Just listened to the Recode on the Media interview with Burns and looking forward to it.
 

The Albatross

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Apr 15, 2010
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A critic from the New Republic:

The Insidious Ideology of Ken Burns’s The Vietnam War



link

I have not seen the documentary, so i can't comment on that, i thought it could be an interesting thing to add to the discussion.

Listening to Burns interview with Peter kafka this snippet reads like bull shit. Burns, in the interview, said he intentionally avoided the 'cheap layups' and instead wanted, simply, to exhaustively document the Vietnam war. It sounds as though the TNR reviewer wants the cheap layups.

That said I haven't watched yet and won't finish it until November probably but I've loved just about everything Burns has ever done and I cherish him as an American institution.
 

firehawk12

Subete no aware
Sep 10, 2007
61,792
0
1,160
Toronto/Guelph
"His documentary does not succeed as history or as a reconciliation of the tribes who have been bickering ever since. "

Disagree on the first part and is it even meant to deal with "bickering tribes"? As for the requiem part, also disagree. Discussing how the country felt prior to the war and how it begun to change for most people during and after the war is an unavoidable part of discussion but I don't see it as lamenting some lost golden age or whatever.

Basically the idea that America wasn't divided in any meaningful way and united as
a monoculture against whatever threatened its existence (which is of course a fiction anyway since Americans were always divided by racial lines).
 

PillarEN

Member
Feb 23, 2015
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Finished up the first two episodes. Got me hooked. Really liked the soundtrack near the end of episode 2 after we are told of JFK being assasinated and LBJ comes to take over.
 
Third episode was good.

I remembered the Ia Drang from the We Were Soldiers movie.. But I didn't know about LZ Albany.

Really well done overall.

I found out today that an older guy I know, one of the softest and quietest people I know, was a door gunner on an attack helicopter in Nam from '69-'70. Had no idea. Randomly came up as I was mentioning the series on TV.
 
Feb 21, 2010
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I'm a bit ahead of the discussion (currently on episode 5) but, holy shit
that marine going through his dehumanization of the enemy just to retain his sanity. Imagine every human-turned-butcher having to go through that to function, probably since the dawn of war.

"I don't know how to explain it that it would make sense".
 

IronRinn

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Mar 8, 2007
8,688
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Watched the first 2 episodes last night. Series is fantastic so far. And that is some Nine Inch Nails-ish Nine Inch Nails on that soundtrack.

Also, not sure where people are seeing only 5 episodes up. All 10 are online.
 

Westonian

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Jul 11, 2005
1,772
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A critic from the New Republic:

The Insidious Ideology of Ken Burns’s The Vietnam War



link

I have not seen the documentary, so i can't comment on that, i thought it could be an interesting thing to add to the discussion.

The first episode starts with one of the men being interviewed stating that growing up in post-WW2 America, every man you knew, from your school teacher, to the milk man had served and fought in WW2 or Korea and that as a kid, they were all his heroes. It then immediately contrasts that with images of anti-war protests that will come later as the war escalates.

I guess you could argue that this was Burns projecting his 'good ole days' ideology, but I thought it was more of an obvious and necessary contrast to the way Americans began to view war, when the reporting of war lost the filters of a government controlled media/propaganda machine.
 

Spike Spiegel

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Jun 7, 2004
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Tonight's episode:



Episode 04. "Resolve" (January 1966-June 1967)
Defying American airpower, North Vietnamese troops and materiel stream down the Ho Chi Minh Trail into the south, while Saigon struggles to “pacify the countryside.” As an antiwar movement builds back home, hundreds of thousands of soldiers and Marines discover that the war they are being asked to fight in Vietnam is nothing like their fathers’ war.
Watch the episode online @ PBS.org
 

Arc

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Jul 16, 2012
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Man this episode was hard to watch. The Saratoga Springs family story hit me like Babe's story from The War.


Also the soundtrack is outstanding, but unfortunately GAF has ruined The Sound of Silence for me.