Wednesday 28 December 2005

Hearts and Minds (1974) - ickleReview (DVD)

Documentary about the Vietnam war, dealing with the questions: why did the US go to war in Vietnam, what did they do there, and what effect did it have on the country and back home in the US? Director Peter Davis's style is not to interject his own opinions and narrative, but let the pictures and personal testimonies speak for themselves (although he does create meaning in his Eisensteinian montage juxtapositions, which give the film its polemical edge).

In a 2004 interview with the director on the UK version of this DVD, he reveals his intention of pursuing those moments that television networks would consider to be "dead air": when no one is talking. Davis finds in these the real impact of the war: in two Vietnamese women whose home has been destroyed, in a former US bomber pilot who suddenly realizes how he would feel if his kids had been attacked the same way, and in a patriotic couple who try to justify the sacrifice their dead son has made for them and their great country.

The blurb cites Michael Moore, who claims this is one of his favourite movies and the reason he picked up a camera, and you can see how Davis has influenced Moore, particularly in Fahrenheit 9/11. Moore pays tribute by using the same footage from a horrifically bad taste Army musical [can anyone supply the title?].

Nugget: a pretty damn powerful movie, very moving in parts, graphic in others. Not always able to answer the questions it asks of this confusing war, but then these things cannot be neatly explained, and that is the whole point of the movie.

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