Take a Drink: whenever you feel you’re only getting half the story
Take a Drink: for mad dashes for freedom
Take a Drink: for maps
Take a Drink: for principled rule-breaking
Do a Shot: for Tricky Dick
By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
It took a Kennedy to get us into Vietnam, and it damn well is going to take a Kennedy to get us out of it… well, make a documentary about getting us out of it, anyway. Yep, Rory Kennedy, director of Last Days in Vietnam, is Bobby’s daughter, and, as it turns out, one hell of a documentary filmmaker. Bad driver, though.
Kind of a Kennedy family issue.
Last Days in Vietnam documents those last hellish weeks of the Vietnam War, with the Viet Kong closing in on Saigon and American Embassy officials staring down the barrel of a gut-wrenching decision- evacuate only U.S. citizens, as they’d been expressly ordered, or try and save as many South Vietnamese allies as they can.
There’s only one answer to that quandary, of course, and thankfully these brave individuals, from the Ambassador himself down to the daring helicopter pilots chose the route that the U.S. Government never. fucking. does. Oh, you’re an interpreter for our evacuating U.S. military forces? Please ask Al Qaeda nicely to not murder you until your VISA paperwork processes in 6 months or so. If there’s still VISAS left. Oh, you have a family? Well…
(To Go Fuck Yourself)
Sorry for getting all political there. This is a hot button issue even now, and Kennedy uses all the resources at her disposal, from far-reaching interviews (Henry Kissinger!), to elucidating animations, to an incredible gallery of contemporary photographs and footage, many never before available to the public, to bring home just how crucial an issue it was (and still is).
The film does a great job of providing context for this situation, as well as many a famous image that you probably had no idea the background story of (I didn’t), but the overriding emotion this film provokes is admiration for the moral courage of these brave individuals, and utter heartbreak for the many, many even braver individuals who were left behind despite the embassy workers’ and maverick flyers’ best efforts. It’s a national shame, and one we can’t help but continue to perpetuate, apparently.
The one aspect of the film that rubbed me the right way was a slight but obvious spin on certain aspects of the production. There’s a bit of an attitude that the War itself was some sort of philanthropic activity, some sort of just cause. I think the argument can be made that there are no righteous wars, but history will handily back up the statement that the Vietnam War at least sure as hell wasn’t.
The argument as to whether or not war is profitable…
Also, I’m pretty sure that Richard Nixon’s resignation wasn’t the reason why the North Vietnamese were emboldened to finish the war, exactly…
Last Days in Vietnam is a testament to a few incredible people who did their damnedest to avert an anticipated tragedy in the waning hours of the Vietnam War. We need more like them.