Hollywood’s representation of the Vietnam War

14 February, 2019 • Arts, Movies 168

Néstor Cerdá, MA in War Studies, King’s College London (KCL)

The Vietnam War, or the American War as it is known in Vietnam, is one of the most complex conflicts of twentieth century. Not only was the United States unable to achieve its original political and military objectives, such as creating a viable pro-American South Vietnamese Republic and destroying the North Vietnamese resolve and their means of infiltrating the South, but also because the Vietnam War was the longest war the U.S. ever fought. When the collapse of Saigon became a terrible reality in 1975 American society was deeply divided and unable to come to terms with the destruction of their national myths of invincibility and of the United States as defender of freedom and democracy. Given the length and intricacies of America’s involvement in Vietnam, it is essential that the term ‘Vietnam as it really was’ is more clearly defined. It should not be understood purely in terms of the conflict itself, but in a wider context. American soldiers’ ‘Vietnam’ experience started before conscription and stayed with them after repatriation; American civilians’ experience was quite different, and that of the Vietnamese different again.

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