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Which Viet Nam era movie is the most realistic?

HokkmikeHokkmike Member Posts: 577 ✭✭✭✭
edited January 2008 in US Military Veteran Forum
First let me say that you men and women have my admiration. I am from a family where just about every member did service somewhere; WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, Panama, Kosovo, Afghanistan......

I was wondering which of the many Viet Nam movies, IRON TRIANGLE, FULL METAL JACKET, APOCOLYPSE NOW, YOUNG ONCE & SOLDIERS, GOOD MORNING VIET NAM, etc., and etc., is in your opinion the most accurate portrayal of what everyday life for soldiers was like over there.



  • DancesWithSheepDancesWithSheep Member Posts: 12,938 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Movies about the Vietnam War and war in general are like all other movies which purport to convey the truth about some area of reality: total ca-ca. That one can sit in a darkened theater with a box of Raisinets and think they are getting the truth of the matter is absurd. In this regard, Saving Private Ryan or Full Metal Jacket or Apocalypse Now are no more or less accurate or to be believed than a Roadrunner cartoon. The point of all such portrayals is entertainment, and only entertainment. That is as it should be, and to think it is anything more would be a mistake. You can learn as much about what it's like to be in war from Platoon as you can about what it's like to have cancer from Terms of Endearment.
  • HokkmikeHokkmike Member Posts: 577 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I hear what you are saying, but supposedly some of these films have technical advisors that try to get them close to the truth. No sale huh?
  • woodshermitwoodshermit Member Posts: 2,589
    edited November -1
    The technical advisors are there to help with continuity and to get the details, such as uniforms, weapons, etc accurate. They don't influence the script or direction. Having a technical advisor who is a vet in the credits can be no more than a marketing ploy. Making a movie is a complex exercise. Everybody's war experience is highly personal. I find that the overall surreal and hallucinogenic look to Apocalypse Now is something that I can relate to, even though I spent most of my time in an air-conditioned quonset hut filled with computers.

    Now, if they would only make a movie featuring massive amounts of alcohol and scary looking bar girls.
  • DancesWithSheepDancesWithSheep Member Posts: 12,938 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by Hokkmike
    I hear what you are saying, but supposedly some of these films have technical advisors that try to get them close to the truth. No sale huh?

    Dale Dye was the technical advisor for Platoon. Yes, he was a former marine who served in Vietnam and should therefore know something about the technical aspects of making such a film. But Dale Dye and others like him have no knowledge of or say in plot and theme development, event sequencing and non-technical dialog, and certainly no override of the intent and wishes of the director, producers and scriptwriters. More importantly, after a point what makes any movie accurate has little to do solely with technical accuracy. Apocalypse Now was based on a Joseph Conrad novel, itself a work of fiction; that instead in Apocalypse Now soldiers flew around in helicopters with guns and shot people and themselves got shot is only incidental to the original plot and character portrayal, the latter of which should not remotely be in question as representing the truth of the matter.
  • doorman292doorman292 Member Posts: 2 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    In my opinion "84 Charlie Mopic" depicts the Vietnam experience better than any other of the Hollywood fantasies. I think this would be the consensus choice if Vietnam Vets were polled. You have to get over a few tactical mis-steps but it really does a good job of capturing the moment. It has not been released on DVD but VHS copies can easily be found.

    Keith 8th BN/4th Arty RVN 1967-68

    84 Charlie Mopic offers the Vietnam experience as seen through the eyes of a combat photographer (Mopic is slang for the Army Motion Picture Unit). Byron Thames plays a combat cameraman who has already been on two tours of duty; he goes on a third because he is intrigued by a reel of film found on the body of a dead photographer. Thames must answer to green lieutenant Jonathan Emerson and experienced sergeant Richard Brooks. In straight-on, non-judgemental fashion, we are shown the day-to-day struggle to stay alive, meeting the main characters in the natural course of action. As the mission winds down, Thames is compelled to abandon his camera to rescue a fellow soldier; as a result, yet another roll of film returns to headquarters without the photographer. 84 Charlie Mopic isn't about politics or collective guilt; it's about survival. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
  • DancesWithSheepDancesWithSheep Member Posts: 12,938 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by doorman292
    ...but it really does a good job of capturing the moment.
    I have no idea what this means. I was in a line company and most moments were tedious and routine; there was no "day-to-day struggle to stay alive". Mostly it was a "day-to-day struggle to stay awake", interspersed with days of such pornographic violence that no studio would ever make such a film, nor would anyone want to see it if they did. We had no storyline, no unfolding plot. And therein lies the flaw of every war movie ever made: They all conveniently have a point, a moral, a lesson. What crap.
  • gap1916gap1916 Member Posts: 4,977
    edited November -1
    WE WERE SOLDIERS. The beginning 1965. See it and you tell me. My 2 cents.
  • freddbear4freddbear4 Member Posts: 154 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    WE WERE SOLDIERS gets my vote. I was with F/2/7 in Qui Nohn when that went down. Like the BAND OF BROTHERS I think it tells the story of a small unit under fire and the personal and unit sacrifice it takes to survive it. So many men, so many stories. Show me fact, I am not interested in Hollywood fiction and nonsense scripts like Saving Private Ryan.
  • Dak To 68Dak To 68 Member Posts: 1,404 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    DancesWithSheep couldn't be more correct.Also lots of heavy physical labor being a grunt, not enough to eat, terrible living conditions, etc. Impossible for any movie or reenactment to even come close to the real thing. It's one of those "you had to be there" things.
  • Dsensei4uDsensei4u Member Posts: 1 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by gap1916
    WE WERE SOLDIERS. The beginning 1965. See it and you tell me. My 2 cents.

    You are right,"WE WERE SOLDIERS" is about the only film that I saw that was 99 % accurate. Hamburger Hill and Full Metal Jacket another pretty accurate movie. All the rest I wouldn't give 2 cents for.
    Vietnam 64,66 and Tet 68 vet.
  • mopac1968mopac1968 Member Posts: 3 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    For us REMF's Nam 1967 it has to be " Good Morning Vietnam"

    Read any books? My favorite fiction is the "13th Valley" It details the life of a airborne infrantry in Nam fairly acturately from the comments I have received from those that saw combat.

    Non Fiction has to General Hal Moore's "We Were Soldiers Once"
    Book was better than the movie.
  • lbgent47lbgent47 Member Posts: 4 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    We were soldiers gets my vote, platoon gets my second
  • sfguysfguy Member Posts: 19 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    I served my whole tour with the 5th Special Forces Group in an A Camp in the Delta so I have absolutely no knowlege of how things went on in a regular outfit. The most realistic one I saw to me was a gritty movie called "The Boys in Company C" although it did not paint the Special Forces in a very good light, I thought the way it showed the corruption of the VN Officers and others were pretty accurate to what I saw in VN.
  • perry shooterperry shooter Member Posts: 17,390
    edited November -1
    My vote is the same as MOPAC GOOD MORNING VIET NAM Showed the BS that was the norm when I went there in 1966 19 days on a WW II troop ship[xx(] with rules of engagement "YOU CAN"T FIRE UNLESS IT IS TO RETURN FIRE"[?] went down cargo nets to landing craft but girls selling BOM DE BOM on the beach makes one feel like a[:o)][:o)]
  • River RatRiver Rat Member Posts: 9,022
    edited November -1
    I'v been a bit reluctant to jump into this discussion, because I generally don't like combat movies. Too intense. Hollywood has been doing considerably better lately, and "Saving Private Ryan," "Wind Talkers," and "We were Soldiers" contain very riveting and realistic scenes. I have never seen these movies entirely, except for Ryan. Just in pieces. Now I am an old vet Grampa, and "Cars" is more my type of entertainment. I do appreciate the fact, however, that Hollywood has been doing a better job of getting it right.

    All the Vietnam movies of the 70s, 80s, and 90s stunk. The one exception was "Good Morning Vietnam," which was cute and fun. It perhaps helped the Nation's healing when it came out. "Apocalypse Now" was the worst of them, even though I refused to watch it and never have. I was on a Navy PBR that the studio recorded for sound, so could boast that watching the movie I could hear the sound of my boat. But I won't watch it. Francis Ford Coppola showed up on the set wearing black pajamas, and to this day I refuse to even buy a bottle of the SOB's wine. He made us look bad, and made a buck doing it.
  • 11b6r11b6r Member Posts: 16,725
    edited November -1
  • hoorahhoorah Member Posts: 2 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    The Nam movies that were the most realistic were We Were soldiers & Full Metal Jacket......not that bloody Stone's Patoon
  • ColoradoGuyColoradoGuy Member Posts: 3 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    My vote is for 'The Deer Hunter.' Not the battle epic but seemed to ring true with my experience of being back home with your unchanged friends and them never able to understand your Viet experience or how different your view of the world had become. Late 60's or early 70's movie, I was there 66-67 on boats.
  • Grunt2Grunt2 Member Posts: 2,527 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    For me.....I would have to say....."The Boys in Company C"
    Retired LEO
    Combat Vet VN
    D.A.V Life Member
  • D.K.D.K. Member Posts: 291 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    How about "Casualties of War"?
  • givettegivette Member Posts: 10,886
    edited November -1
    Movies? My own. In Vietnam I had a mini 8mm camera that was carried in my pocket. No lie. Till I was found out. After a firefight, I got something like "Never, ever let me see you risking your *' life exposing yourself with that dum-bass camera again". Best, Joe USN (USMC Corpsman)
  • baddawg19baddawg19 Member Posts: 1 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    We Were Soldiers & Go Tell The Spartans

    1/16th Recon 66/67 RVN, 131st Avn 69/70
  • SteveWagSteveWag Member Posts: 4 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    I am new here, but did a tour (extended) with HQ Bat. 3-11, 1st Marines, and FMJ is the best BY FAR. The "Trigolgy" are just bull poop. The Deer Hunter holds a special position, but only because it was filmed in Pittsburgh ( I am from PA).

    Steve Wagner
  • CapnMidnightCapnMidnight Member Posts: 8,520
    edited November -1
    My first exwife took me to see Apocalypse, I walked out after about 30 min. I just don't watch movies about the Nam.
    HHT 2/1 armoured cav
  • VetLoverSupporterVetLoverSupporter Member Posts: 5 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    I've heard time & time again that movies are inaccurate in almost every aspect so my advice would be stick to reading books. Read a biography, etc... From people who were actually in the thick of the war and are writing from experience, that's my best bet. Other than that all I can say would be to look for real footage on the internet if you want something visual.
  • snakeatersnakeater Member Posts: 2 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    IMO there was never any movie that depicted what it was like in 'Nam I spent almost 2 tours there with the 5th SF. Never saw a US Military Base, except to drop off a prisoner or intell.Spent my timew in the bsu except when I was wounded. No freaking Hollywood producer, director, writer could come even close to makeing a movie about the shiete I and my team participated in and saw![:(!]
    Why the F don't you people let it die?????? [V] Reliving that "war" is not fun. NObody has any freaking idea what it was like unless you where there in the middle of the poopstorms! Anybody that was in the middle of the shiete and saw a lot of SERIOUS action doesn't want to talk about it!!
  • s2kilos2kilo Member Posts: 4 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    It really depends on your perspective. I could relate to a lot of stuff in all the Viet-Nam movies but not everything in every movie. Being entertaining and completely historic are two different ways to make a movie I guess. Not every one of us who served in RVN had the same experiences that everyone else had, nor the experiences that were portrayed. Platoon to me had a lot of familiar events, also We were soldiers. They all had their good points and screw-ups as well.
  • Hot TunaHot Tuna Member Posts: 18 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Please concider Jacob's Ladder.
    edited November -1
  • Da-TankDa-Tank Member Posts: 4,074
    edited November -1
    Most all the movies of Nam were and are bad jokes.
    Dryer then helluntik your use to it then monsoon sets in. Wetter then a astronauts home bar. Exploding people, exploding fruit baskets, and some one always shooting off a gun when you finaly get to sleep. Canned food, low ammo rations, and new meat 2nd Lts to counter order all intelengce. Get to short time statis and your turn on patrol comes up for the 8th time in 2 weeks. Only 2 things come through while your in the field C- rations and the mail. Stioll wondering if that can make it why not a hot meal.
    At least at the start of the war nobody got put in jail for shooting the enemy. Oh yeh with a M-14 you didn't have to tap em twice, then check em. Nuff for now.
  • cordcord Member Posts: 1 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    84C MOPIC is probably the best small unit action film done on Viet Nam
    released in 1989. Check it out, available on tape and DVD. The plot is about a 5 man LRRP unit going on a patrol with a two man motion picture team. Motion Picture camerman MOS is 84C20......
  • kumatekumate Member Posts: 2,311 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Gentlemen may I start by saying you have my utmost respect for your service in a war that our nazi government would not let you win.I,myself put in 24 yrs with the corp and I know that I have not seen your hell.Went through a few battles and lost men under me so I know it hurts when you watch a movie that is half right.I got Jarheads yall got the rest and jarhead didn't look like what I did.sorry to infringe on hallowed ground but you fellers are my heroes
    SST will jones
    USMC Ret
  • NOTPARSNOTPARS Member Posts: 2,081 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I was a cop for 11 years and never a vet or in Vietnam so my opinion is probably pretty uninformed. For the most part, cop movies are funny to me because so few of them are realistic at all. I imagine that may also be true of Vietnam movies. I liked Gibson's we were soldiers but could not help but notice the script pushed the moral equivalency argument between American soldiers and the North Vietnamese...a little too pc for me.
  • overo88overo88 Member Posts: 26 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    After you get done with all the hollywood BS about Vietnam.
    Go rent/buy a movie called " the odd angry shot" while not depicting us troops but ausies. the realistic day to day happenings are about as real as it gets.
    Been there, done that!
    graduate; class of 1965-1966, USMC, 0311, Chu-lie RVN
    operations: colorado, Deck house I and II, just a few of 12 S&D missions.
  • mrseatlemrseatle Member Posts: 15,467 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I served well after vietnam, but can tell you: It's all about what unit you fall into and who your buddies are.

    I see someone mentioned "Good Morning Vietnam" and "Jacobs Ladder"... ....might be accurate for some.[;)]


    "Air America" and "Gardens of Stone" are my picks.
  • crazy charliecrazy charlie Member Posts: 62 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Most Nam movies suck.
    The far left has seen to that. Now, with that out of my system.....
    As far as accuracy or philosophy it would depend on the time you served your tour of duty.
    My time was best described in Go Tell The Spartans.
    Korean and WW-II vets mixed in with youngsters, Viet politics, arrogant leaders, people with values, or no values, use of older reliable weapons and the list goes on.
    I can relate to all the characters except the medic on drugs, although he did add some humor to the plot.
  • eastbankeastbank Member Posts: 4,215
    edited November -1
    my vote is for the movie,rumors of war. eastbank.
  • Flyin_PaulieFlyin_Paulie Member Posts: 857 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    War movies that are produced for commercial value all have one thing in common, they must be entertaining. If they weren't, most would not watch them. and the producing factions would have a financial loss on their hands. As an aside, there were bunches of movies made during the WW11 years that were designed to be propoganda or recruiting tools. I think some were financed by the government.

    The question could be, "What is the worst war movie ever made"?
  • MMOMEQ-55MMOMEQ-55 Member Posts: 13,134
    edited November -1
    If some director really made an accurate movie about VN no one would go to see it. Too boring.
    The heat, the rain, the poop smelling rice paddys (still can't eat rice after all these years). They have to glamorise war to make money. I watch these movies and laugh at the bull I see.
    There was one accurate scene in "Good Morning VN" (Me so horney Me Boom Boom long time) Now thats an accurate account![:D]
  • GENERALLEEGENERALLEE Member Posts: 11 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    I'd say Forest Gumps tour.Run Forest,Run.[:D]
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