True Films

Hearts and Minds


A hard-hitting anti-war expose, aimed at the Vietnam War. By now the sheer folly, criminality, waste, brutality, and stupidity of the Vietnam War is evident, but back in 1974, when this powerful documentary was made, it was a brave step. This film does not pretend to be an even-handed analysis. Like a proto-Michael Moore film, it uses ironic juxtapositions to make its points. It does not counter with Viet Cong atrocities, which have their own foolish brutality, worthy of a similar film. Hearts and Minds ends up being a well-done, entertaining case against war anywhere.

(Just for balance I am eager to see a film making the case that the Vietnam War was a good idea. Nominations wanted.)

— KK


Most dramatic moment with General Westmoreland

Hearts and Minds
Peter Davis (II)
1974, 112 min.
DVD, $25

Official website

Read more about the film at Wikipedia

Rent from Netflix

Available from Amazon

Posted February 18, 2009 at 5:00 am | comments
| in category History

  • john freeland

    I saw this at a free film screening in a small lecture hall at the Univ. of Michigan about 30 years ago. I’ll never forget it.

  • will

    I recommend “a nation builds under fire,” which features John Wayne as its host.

    This 40-minute film was made in 1966, when most of the country had not made up its mind about whether to support the war. They emphasize “nation-building” instead of war, introducing the term to an audience who has never heard of it.

    Since this film, liberal America has aligned itself against John Wayne almost as whole-heartedly as against Vietnam, and this film captures a time when there was still a chance for both, in the hearts and minds of its audience.

    watch an excerpt here:

  • Lewis Duffy

    This film is a must see for every American. Period. It may be the greatest anti-war documentary ever made. Perhaps if it was part of the public school curriculum there would have been more opposition to the invasion of Iraq. I don’t see how this film can be compared to Michael Moore, who is a pure propagandist. The viewpoints of key figures like Westmoreland and Rostow are given ample screen time. The trouble is, their viewpoints just don’t measure up to scrutiny.

    Kevin, in your search for ‘balance’, you risk moral equivocation. There can never be a film that makes a good case for U.S. military involvement in Vietnam because it was based on a false premise from the outset, namely the threat of ‘world communism’ and the domino theory. As Daniel Ellsberg says in the film, the American people were lied to by not one, but four different Administrations, Republican and Democrat. And we are surprised it happened again for eight more years? This film is really about the danger of U.S. imperialism, something very difficult for many Americans to accept.

    An anecdote: on the day after September 11, when we were all grieving in disbelief, a quiet, peaceful acquaintance of mine remarked, “now they know what its’ like.” I was shocked by his comment and told him he was way out of line; he explained that as a boy in Cambodia he had witnessed the bombing of his country by B-52’s, the children killed by the concussion, blood flowing from their nose and ears. What could I say to that?

  • Manny

    This was a good view.

    The one thing I learned was that war never changes…the lies, the horrors and the suffering never change.

    I found it funny in a sad way when the Navy “hero” was talking to the grade school kids and called the Vietnam people ‘gooks’ etc.

    Thanks for this suggestion.

    Your Reader,


  • Alan Dove

    It doesn’t exactly argue that the Vietnam war was a “good idea,” but Errol Morris’s documentary “The Fog of War” at least allows the debacle’s chief architect, Robert McNamara, to explain the thinking that led to it. I hope someone is able to film a similar discussion with Donald Rumsfeld at some point in the future.