I know I supposedly summed up my thoughts on Ken Burns’s and Lynn Novick’s The Vietnam War, but I realized I had neglected to lodge one final complaint. While I don’t remember if the narrator (whom I took to be the voice of Burns & Novick) makes this claim, many interviewees act as if United States citizens had never opposed their government’s wars until Vietnam. The problem with this is that, in our moment of cultural backlash against the 1960s and 1970s, people may attribute opposition to today’s wars to be rooted in cultural developments of the 1960s and 1970s and hence dismiss it.
At minute 95:37 of Episode 10 of the PBS Vietnam War series, I captured this screenshot:
The preceding narration was:
In 1994, after the Vietnamese met the Americans’ demand, the United States lifted its trade embargo. Full normalization came the following year.
I hope the Vietnamese got something more than USA cancer sticks.
I’ve blogged after watching Episode 1 and Episode 4 of Ken Burns‘s PBS documentary The Vietnam War. I’ve finished watching all 10 episodes, and I thought I’d share some general thoughts on the documentary.
- It’s technically extremely well-done and will please any fan of historical documentaries.
- Even when interviewees said things with which I disagreed, I felt I could respect or at least acknowledge their perspective. The exception to this is of course war criminal John Negroponte. Like other Burns documentaries, you are moved towards reconciliation.
- And of course Burns’s skill at #1 & #2 is the deadly flaw of this documentary: After 10 episodes, the documentary doesn’t editorially tell you how to react to contemporary USA wars. Like President Obama’s speeches, it gives viewers material with which they can arrive at conclusions suited to the preconceptions with which they began the film, although mellowed towards those who draw an opposite conclusion.
Narrator: Mogie’s combat commander, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Emerson, known as “the Gunfighter,” was courageous, implacable, relentless. A few months before Mogie got there, he had offered a case of whiskey to the first of his men to bring him the hacked-off head of an enemy soldier. They did. [Emphasis added. Dennis Crocker was nicknamed Mogie.] Continue reading
And unto Midian (We sent) their brother Shu’eyb. He said: O my people! Serve Allah. Ye have no other god save Him! And give not short measure and short weight. Lo! I see you well-to-do, and lo! I fear for you the doom of a besetting Day. O my people! Give full measure and full weight in justice, and wrong not people in respect of their goods. And do not evil in the earth, causing corruption. That which Allah leaveth with you is better for you if ye are believers; and I am not a keeper over you. They said: O Shu’eyb! Doth thy way of prayer command thee that we should forsake that which our fathers (used to) worship, or that we (should leave off) doing what we will with our own property. Lo! thou art the mild, the guide to right behaviour. He said: O my people! Bethink you: if I am (acting) on a clear proof from my Lord and He sustaineth me with fair sustenance from Him (how can I concede aught to you)? I desire not to do behind your backs that which I ask you not to do. I desire naught save reform so far as I am able. My welfare is only in Allah. In Him I trust and unto Him I turn (repentant). Quran 11:84-88, Pickthall translation
Kinder Morgan, an energy infrastructure company, has proposed the Palmetto Pipeline, a spur pipeline which would take refined petroleum products from a point on an existing pipeline in northwestern South Carolina through Georgia to Jacksonville, Florida. A coalition of environmental advocates and landowners has organized to oppose the pipeline. Continue reading
Palestinian-Egyptian documentary filmmaker Saeed Taji Farouky is looking for help to get his eco-documentary ‘There Will Be Some Who Will Not Fear Even That Void’ off the ground. Farouky is an award-winning filmmaker and photographer whose work focuses on underreported issues and marginalised communities. He has been Artist-in-Residence at the British Museum (twice) and is also a human rights educator with Amnesty and teaches filmmaking at London’s Metropolitan Film School.
There Will Be Some Who Will Not Fear Even That Void is an ecological film for the 21st century that asks, “Can art save the Arctic?” You help can support the film by pitching in at their Kickstarter page or spreading the word.