HISTORY 398: Special Topics: The Vietnam Experience (Online ACS Course Fall 1999)

Instructions for Writing Film/Videotape Reviews

Students are required to view two films and/or videotapes outside of class and to submit a two-page review and reaction statement on each visual source. The reviews will reflect limited research in filmography (library and Internet materials on film criticism) as well as your reaction, both personal and that which is informed from course materials. Films or videotapes may be borrowed from the Media Resources Center (MRC) of Boatwright Library or you may request use of equipment in the MRC.

1. Start by reviewing the list below. Make one selection from feature films and view one documentary. Do not make both selections from the same type of material.

2. After making your selection, view the film/documentary from a critical perspective, recording your reactions immediately. Then consult filmography materials. Such materials might include online film reviews you find on your own and sources such as those listed below. When paraphrasing or quoting from other sources (including the film itself), use standard form for endnotes.

3. Write your review. Include an introductory paragraph in which you furnish the name of the producer or director, the title of the series in which the film is a part, and name or names of major actors (if a feature film.) Include a brief (one paragraph) summary, your personal reactions (what impact did viewing the film or videotape have on you?), and critical commentary based on course materials and filmography consulted. For this paper, furnish a bibliography and use endnotes for reactions or other critical commentary not your own. As in all formal writing, proofread and correct your paper before submitting it for evaluation.

4. In documentaries, watch for and comment on the presence of "balance" and/or bias, using examples in either case. Oliver Stone's films present unique opportunities for analysis and critical comment. For all feature films, it is usually expected that a reviewer will also comment on major actors playing roles of major characters.

Students must view one film or videotape and submit the writing assignment on or before Wednesday, September 22; the second viewing/writing assigment will be due on or before Wednesday, November 17.


Anderegg, Michael, ed., Inventing Vietnam: The War in Film and Television (1991) DS557.73 A5 1991

Dittmar, Linda, and Gene Michaud, eds., From Hanoi to Hollywood: The Vietnam War in American Film (1990) DS557.73 F76 1990

Devine, Jeremy M., Vietnam at 24 Frames a Second (1995) DS557.73 D48 1995

Malo, Jean-Jacques and Tony Williams, eds., Vietnam War Films . . . 1939-1992 (1994) DS557.73 V53 1994

Muse, Eben J. The Land of Nam: The Vietnam War in American Film (1995) DS557.73.M87

Smith, Myron J. Air War, Southeast Asia, 1961-1973: An Annotated Bibliography and 16mm Film Guide (1979) DS558.A1 S65

Wilson, James Vietnam in Prose and Film (1982) P92.U5 W53


The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). http://www.imdb.com/

Consult also the following Library of Congress Subject Headings in the BML's Computer Catalog for more titles. Indochinese War, 1946-1954 -- Motion Pictures and the War; Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975 -- Motion Pictures and the Conflict; and War films -- United States -- History and Criticism.


Make each of your selections from the following list:


Vietnam: A Television History (1983), controversial series of 13 episodes, WGBH, a documentary originally shown on PBS (UR 60 min each)

Roots of War

The First Vietnam War, 1946-1954

America's Mandarin

LBJ Goes to War, 1964-1965

America Takes Charge, 1965-1967

With America's Enemy, 1954-1967

Tet, 1968

Vietnamizing the War, 1968-1973

No Neutral Ground: Cambodia and Laos

"Peace is at Hand," 1968-1973

Homefront USA

The End of the Tunnel, 1975



CNN Cold War Series (1998-1999)

Vietnam, 1954-1968 (Episode 11)

Make Love, Not War: The Sixties (Episode 13)


Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam, HBO series (1987) [UR 84 min]

Why Vietnam? (U.S. Directorate for Armed Forces Information, 1965) [rental for class only]

Vietnam: The Ten-Thousand Day War (1980) [3 vols., RBC 102, 49 min]

Vietnam under Communism (1985) [UR 58 min]

Vietnam Memorial (1983, 1988), PBS, Frontline series [UR 60 min]

Vietnam: Chronicle of a War (1981) based on CBS News Archives [UR 88 min]

America, Love it or Leave it (1990) PBS series [UR 57 min]

The Story of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial: The Last Landing Zone (1994) [UR 40 min]

Vietnam: Two Decades and a Wake Up (1982, 1990) [UR 60 min]

Vietnam: The Secret Agent (on Agent Orange) (1983, 1986) [UR 56 min]

The Ho Chi Minh Trail (1989) BBC production [UR 60 min]

No Time for Tears: Vietnam: the Women Who Served (1993) [UR 59 min]

Kim Phuc (1984) Impact of war on girl, injured in 1972, who returns to her village [UR 26 min]

Vietnam: The Last Battle (1995) Review of the 1975-1995 period (1995) [UR 55 min]

In the Year of the Pig (1968, 1987) Emile de Antonio's controversial documentary, with music by Steve Addiss [UR 103 min]

Remember My Lai (1989) Frontline production [UR 58 min]

Thanh's War (1990) Impact of war on injured 12-year old (1968-1990) [UR 58 min]

The Fall of Saigon: Memories and Nightmares (1995) BBC/Discovery Channel production [UR 60 min]

Beyond the Killing Fields (1993) Maryknoll production on postwar Cambodia [UR 28 min]

Vietnam Mission: Fifty Years among the Montagnards (1993) [UR 56 min]

Their Own Vietnam (1995) a production of Women Make Movies which highlights the stories of five veterans. [UR 23 min]

Ho Chi Minh: The Man Behind the Myth, a 1998 production of Reuters Television [UR 23 min]

A World Beneath the War: The Secret Tunnels of Vietnam (1997) [UR 53 min]

Vietnam: An Historical Document (1976)[UR 56 min] Uses television news reports to trace the history of US involvement in Vietnam from the 1950s to 1973. Narrated by Walter Cronkite.

Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision (1995) [UR 83 min] This film has a special focus on the design and impact of Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Civil Rights Memorial.


Feature Films:

Apocalypse Now (1979) Francis Ford Coppola film [UR 153 min]

Heaven and Earth (1993) Oliver Stone's latest Vietnam film, which is based on two books by Le Ly Hayslip (see syllabus bibliographies) [UR 142 min]

Platoon (1986) Oliver Stone film [UR 120 min]

Born on the Fourth of July (1989) Oliver Stone film [UR 145 min]

Indochine (1992) French with English subtitles, feature film on French colonialism [UR 156 min]

Hearts and Minds (1974 film; videotape 1981) Academy Award winner [UR 212, 112 min]

The Deer Hunter (1978, 1991) early feature film with Vietnam background [UR 183 min]

Coming Home (1987) [127 min]

Hamburger Hill (1987) [112 min]

Full Metal Jacket (1987) [UR 112 min]


Before viewing any film not listed above, check with the instructor for approval. This is a growing list of options, and your choice may be one which should be added.


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