Give Peace a Chance

College students in Boston march against the Vietnam war, October 16, 1965.
“Say what you will about the Vietnam War, it had a great soundtrack. Feature and documentary filmmakers have, of course, long appreciated this—cue ‘The End’ by the Doors for the unforgettable opening sequence of 1979’s Apocalypse Now, and, about a decade later, Bob Dylan’s ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’ for a long, wet, and ominous combat patrol sequence in HBO’s documentary, Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam (1987). The 1960s bred a generation of musicians with an ear for prophetic gloom, their songs seeming all the more inspired as a backdrop to the unfolding horror in Vietnam. Even a whimsical ditty like the Beatles’ ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ took on new and unintentionally sinister meaning when played over Armed Forces Radio in Saigon in 1967, as reporter Michael Herr reminds us in his own dark masterpiece about the war, Dispatches (1977). Ken Burns’s twenty-ninth historical documentary, The Vietnam War (2017), co-directed with longtime associate Lynn Novick, falls within this tradition of depicting the war. … If Burns tends to gravitate toward lighter topics, the Vietnam War is decidedly not one of them. So it was with some trepidation that I sat down to binge-watch the eighteen hours of The Vietnam War. Despite an occasional and, to my ears, strained suggestion that the war was in some ways the product of good intentions gone awry, this series is Burns at his bleakest. Unfortunately, this perspective is applied somewhat indiscriminately, to include antiwar protesters as well as policymakers. …”

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Bob Dylan, Documentary, Michael Herr, Music, Napalm, Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Viet Cong, Vietnam War and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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