I liked this a lot. It seemed that the series strove to maintain a neutral point of view in regard to the causes and/or futility of the war while maintaining focus on the individuals they profiled, and in my opinion they largely succeeded. Unlike a previous reviewer, I did not find it to be overly narcissistic, pro-war, or even all that pro-American, though the focus was definitely on the American experience. Some time was also devoted to other factors, such as life for the families back home, protests and movements, and U.S. administration positions on the war at various points, though the main focus remained with the progress of the war and the battlefields themselves.
Leaving the controversies aside, I thought that what the series tried to do -- portray the experiences of various individuals at certain key places and events in the war -- they did quite well. I also liked the graphics and illustrations and, as opposed to other documentaries I have seen, I thought that these were distributed well and did not get in the way of the real story. The CGI stuff was good and not overdone, in my opinion.
The thing about Vietnam is that once you start discussing the controversies and what we now know to be untruths, it is a discussion without end, full of passion and short on facts, not because of the people discussing it but because the whole thing was based upon a twenty year series of lies and deceptions on the part of the governments involved. Wherever there are lies there will always be arguments, and the subject of the Vietnam war is proof positive of this on a massive scale. This series did not attempt to take any of that on, and wisely so. Though at times I found this irritating -- for instance, the neutral announcement of the events in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964 as legal cause for Johnson's escalation, when we now know that at least one of the incidents never happened -- I could recognize it as necessary in telling the story. If they had taken on any one of the many controversies or governmental lies, it would have been a quicksand from which the series would not have recovered. I'm glad they didn't!
It is good to remember that many of those fighting were not volunteers but draftees: it was a federal charge and prison time to dodge the draft. In that light, I do not think that talk of honor and duty is narcissistic or out of place: many did not choose the war, but were sent by force. These went in service to their *country* -- if not the war itself -- and acquitted themselves on a personal level largely with great honor, regardless of the legitimacy of the war or their belief in it. Many times in the series you hear the soldiers referring to the war as a lost cause, and yet they gave their lives for it, if only because that was what they personally felt was the honorable thing to do. I believe that this *personal* honor, courage and heroism on an *individual* level is what this series was trying to bring out, and I think it succeeded very well.
I enjoyed this series in spite of its neutral point of view, and I think it was very nicely done given the incredibly controversial nature of the war and its premises. While I would NOT recommend this series as a primer on Vietnam, nor even a good outline or overview -- you'd be better off going to Wikipedia for that -- it did very well with what it tried to do, and it's well worth a watch if wartime documentaries are something you like. Enjoy!
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