Vietnam War

The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War took place in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 till 30 April 1975. The war lasted 19 years, 5 months, 4 weeks, and 1 day.  It was fought between North Vietnam, and the government of South Vietnam, who were supported by the United States. The United States government viewed its contribution in the war as a way to prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam as part of their widespread strategy of containment. The North Vietnamese however regarded the conflict as a colonial war. The Paris Peace Accords on “Ending the war and Restoring Peace in Vietnam” were signed on 27 January 1973, ending direct US military involvement.  United States military however, only completely ended its contribution on 15 August 1973 and the capture of Saigon by the Vietnam People’s Army in April 1975, which marked the end of the war.

Estimates of the number of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed vary from fewer than 1 million to more than 3 million. Some 200,000 to 300,000 Cambodians, 20,000 to 200,000 Laotians and 58,220 US service members also died in conflict, with more than 150,000 wounded, and at least 21,000 that had been permanently disabled. The average age of the United States troops killed in Vietnam was 23 years of age.

At the start of 1975, the South Vietnamese had 3 times as much artillery and twice the number of tanks and armored cars as the opposition. However, the rising oil prices meant that much of this could not be used as it relied on fuel. They faced a well-organized, greatly determined and well-funded North Vietnam. Within South Vietnam, there was increasing chaos. Their abandonment by the American Military had compromised an economy reliant on on US financial support and the presence of a large number of US troops. On 30 April 1975, the Vietnamese People’s Army troops entered the city of Saigon and rapidly overpowered all resistance.

Some of the anti-communist forces involved in the war included South Vietnam, the United States, South Korea, Australia, Philippines, New Zealand, Thailand, and more. On the other hand, communist forces included countries such as North Vietnam, Viet Cong, and more. The communist forces were also supported by the Soviet Union, China, North Korea and Bulgaria, among others. The war resulted in communist government taking power in South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Other changes included the unification of North and South Vietnam into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

The Vietnam War has been featured heavily in television, films, video games, and literature. The war also influenced a generation of musicians and songwriters in Vietnam and the United States.

Pearl Harbor is a 2001 war film. The film entails a dramatic reimagining of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The film stars Ben Affleck as Rafe, Josh Hartnett as Danny and Kate Beckinsale as Evelyn. Although Pearl Harbor was to be a reenactment of what happened during the Vietnam War, many Pearl Harbor survivors said the film was extremely inaccurate and pure Hollywood. The greatest criticism came when actual historical events were changed to create drama. The film begins with Danny and Rafe as young boys who accidently start Rafe’s dad’s plane, getting their first taste of flying. Rafe then falls in love with a nurse, Evelyn and the two of them are relocated to their opposite areas at Pearl Harbor. Rafe is then shot down over the English Channel and presumed to have been killed in action. Rafe’s best friend, Danny and lover, Evelyn, bond over his death and soon they begin a relationship. Rafe returns, having survived the crashed. The next morning, the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. Rafe and Danny manage to get their planes airborne and are able to shoot down many Japanese aircrafts. Evelyn confides in Rafe that she is pregnant with Danny’s child, however wants to withhold the information from him, until he returns. Danny and Rafe are sent to bomb Tokyo, however crash into a rice field in Japanese territory. During an attack on them, Danny acts as a human shield to save Rafe. Rafe holds a dying Danny in his arms and explains that he can’t die because he is about to be a father. Danny’s dying words are to Rafe to look after his child for him. When Rafe returns, Evelyn is early waiting, however she sees that he is carrying Danny’s coffin. The movie ends with Evelyn, Rafe and Danny’s son all together, while Rafe takes him flying for the first time. Despite negative reviews from critics, Pearl Harbor still became a major box office success, earning $449,220,945 at the universal box office and earned the Academy Award for the best sound editing. The film was classified the sixth highest earning picture in 2001.

Full Metal Jacket is a 1987 war film. The film follows a group of US marines through their training and the experiences of the marines during the Vietnam War. The film received praise and an Academy Award nomination for the Best Adapted Screen Play. The film tells a story of a group of US Marine recruits who arrive at Paris Island for basic training in 1967, during the Vietnam War. The film begins by concentrating on a private who gains the nickname of Pyle, who is beaten up by is fellow marines in order to mold him into a model marine. However, fellow private, Joker, notices the signs of a mental breakdown in Pyle who one night shoots sergeant Hartman, before pulling the gun on himself. The majority of the film includes war and death shows a great deal of loyalty between soldiers. Nearing the end of the film, the quad encounters a sniper. After many of the US troops lose their lives, they eventually come face to face with the sniper who is found to be a teenage girl. As the girl begs for her death, there is much controversy among the US troops about whether or not to shoot her, Joker is then given the go-ahead to shoot her and is congratulated by his fellow marines for doing so.   Full Metal Jacket received a limited release on June 26, 1987 in only 215 theatres. Its opening weekend saw it obtain $2,217,307, ranking it the number ten film for the June 26-28 weekend. It took a further $2,002,890, before entering wide release on July 10, 1987 at 881 theatres. The July 10-12 weekend saw the film gross $6,079,963 and ranked as the number two grossing film. Over the next four weeks the film opened in a further 194 theatres, making it the 23rd highest grossing film of 1987. Full Metal Jacket received a positive response following its release and was nominated for 11 awards worldwide between 1987 and 1989.

Born on the Fourth of July is a 1989 film adaption of the best-selling autobiography of the same name by Vietnam War veteran, Ron Kovic. The film was selected for 8 Academy Awards. The film was a critical and commercial victory, grossing more than $232,000,000 worldwide, and winning 2 Academy Awards, 4 Golden Globe Awards and a Directors Guild of America Award. The film begins by showing Ron Kovic’s childhood as he watches John F Kennedy’s inaugural address, which later motivates him to enlist in the marines. The film then skips to Kovic’s second tour of Vietnam in October 1967. During a raid, Kovic becomes disorientated and accidently shoots one of the new arrivals who was a young marine named Wilson. Unfortunately, Wilson died and this left Kovic with an overwhelming sense of guilt. During another patrol, a firefight occurs and Kovic is seriously injured and thought to be left for dead; however he is saved by a fellow marine. This traumatic experience left him paralyzed from the mid-chest down and he spends months in a deteriorated hospital trying to recover. Ron returns home and is wheelchair bound. After his return home, he begins to alienate himself. To Ron it seems that students as well as his immediate family have become seemingly more anti-war. His problems are both psychological and physical and he soon turns into an alcoholic. Ron is also seen to show obvious signs of post-traumatic stress. Ron later travels to a small town in Mexico and has his first sexual experience with a prostitute. Ron makes a detour on his way to, to visit the family of Wilson, the marine he accidently killed. The confession of his actions seems to clear his conscience. Ron joins Vietnam Veterans Against the War and travels to the Republican National Convention, where him and other members, force their way into the hall during Richard Nixon’s acceptance speech. The film then ends with Ron Kovic giving a speech at the 1976 Democratic National Convention, shortly after the publication of his autobiography, Born on the Fourth of July. The film stars world renowned Tom Cruise as Ron Kovic. The reviews of the film were extremely positive. The film was released on December 22, 1989 grossing $766,942 at its opening weekend.

There are many more films that refer to the devastating, long-lasting and extremely controversial Vietnam War. Some of the films include, We Were Soldiers, Platoon, The Deer Hunter, and many more.  This is one war that certainly made film stars, directors and all those involved in show business very wealthy, while soldiers died and families lost loved ones. The devastation this war caused millions of people from all over the world is incomprehensible, yet this war will not be forgotten and will forever live on through the stories and interpretations of others.

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