Col. Mike Kirby picks two teams of crack Green Berets for a mission in South Vietnam. First off is to build and control a camp that is trying to be taken by the enemy the second mission is to kidnap a North Vietnamese General.
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U.S. Special Forces troops ("Green Berets") under the command of Colonel Mike Kirby defend a firebase during the Vietnam war. War correspondent George Beckwith accompanies Kirby and objects to both the war and the means by which it is executed. Kirby's firebase is overrun and his troops fight bravely to retake it. Kirby and a select group of his men are then ordered on a special mission to capture a high-level Viet Cong officer. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
No, seriously. "The Green Berets" is about as viable and creditable as "The Boys in Company C" or "Casualties of War". It's hard to find a Vietnam war movie that DOESN'T come full of distortions based on the film makers political agendas; it's just this time "The Green Berets" comes from the pro-involvement side.
We've heard the negatives about this movie, and most of them are basically correct but there are a few things to say that, if not positive, put the movie in a less negative light.
First, this isn't your usual piece about 19 year old conscripts being called up to fight in a war they don't understand. The real Special Forces are career professionals who have very high standards of training and discipline. "The Green Berets" isn't a movie about your average grunt; it's about commandos and a lot of the training, tactics and equipment is accurate for the time. The experience of the special forces in Vietnam was widely different from line conscripts; and they won a lot of victories.
Second, it was a bold move to make a movie about the Vietnam war whilst it was still going on. The movie was made shortly before the Tet Offensive of 1968 when the initiative was still with the US and South Vietnamese forces. This is a Vietnam war movie from the early part of the war...something "Platoon" falls down on is depicting the unit in a state of disorganisation, with the usual drug taking and indiscipline scenes that have become cliché, in 1967 when the reality was that discipline and cohesion in the field in '67 was a lot tighter. Stone depicts events that would not become common in front line troops until '69-'70. Yes, I know he served a tour of duty over there but a number of his fellow veterans have called his depiction of events into question.
Third, the early part of the movie with the relationships between US Special Forces officers and ARVN counterparts is fairly well done. The SF had been present in Vietnam from '62 onwards and by '67-'68 had built up a good working relationship with ARVN Ranger units (the only South Vietnamese army units that were well trained and led).
Now the pine tree issue. Well, I hate to break it to people but not all of Vietnam is palm trees and jungle. In the area of Cochinchina just north of Saigon and into the hilly Montangnard country, there are a lot of deciduous and evergreen trees. I was surprised to find this when doing research on the US 25th Infantry Division and finding a lot of their patrol area wasn't in jungle but hilly woodland. Pine trees maybe stretching things a little bit though but it's not impossible.
The politics. Yes, the Duke is on the right wing campaign trail but other film makers have used the Vietnam war to promote the liberal left agenda so I don't get why that is acceptable and an alternative view that doesn't conform to that is inherently wrong. The scene at the beginning of the movie has Aldo Ray explaining how China, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union were sending aid to North Vietnam...so Oliver Stone's assertions that the VC were self-liberating and proudly defiant are deeply wrong. The VC and NVA were tools of a communist regime that were being heavily supplied and subsidised by other Communist regimes. I'm not advocating that the US's involvement in a war in Vietnam was right, just that people understand the involvement of other nations as well.
For those who think this movie is bad because it doesn't depict American atrocities, drug taking and insubordination like other Vietnam war movies have merely bought into another set of falsehoods. This goes back to my original point; "The Green Berets" isn't particularly realistic...but then again, neither are most other movies about that war.
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