An Oscar-winning documentary dissection of the post-Vietnam American conscience. Davis, a controversial documentarist whose previous work included the notorious The Selling of the Pentagon for CBS television, described it as 'more psychological than political'; which is precisely where it falls down, using pathos-eliciting footage (interviews with veterans, their parents, a Buddhist monk; footage of a bombed village) instead of the hard political analysis so obviously needed. The result is that, while this has the required emotional effect, the film's characters polarise all too easily into the heroes and villains of the anti-Commie, anti-gook propaganda movies extensively 'quoted'. Nevertheless, there is much interesting and exclusive interview material from American militarists and policymakers, and most notably a previous French president, to compensate for the overall mood of chest-beating remorse.
Friday November 11 2005