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.
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.