Now that the big festivals are done and I’m back in Los Angeles for the long haul, I’m determined to wade through all 18 hours of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick‘s The Vietnam War. I’m not thinking of buying the Bluray — it’s easy enough to upload all the episodes and watch at my own pace. Ten 90-minute episodes. Here we go.
“The Vietnam War is not [Ken] Burns’ most innovative film, but it is probably [his] saddest film. The Civil War was mournful, but at least the Union was preserved. The War ended with fascism defeated. The war in Vietnam offers no uplift or happy ending. It’s simply decades of bad decision after bad decision, a wasteful vortex that devoured lives for nothing.
“It was, the narrator Peter Coyote says, ‘begun in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and Cold War miscalculations.’
“The Vietnam War is less an indictment than a lament. The saddest thing about this elegiac documentary may be the credit it extends its audience. The Vietnam War still holds out hope that we might learn from history, after presenting 18 hours of evidence to the contrary.” — from James Poniewozsik’s 9.14 N.Y. Times review.