Of War
Cinema Signal:

Dirty Little Secrets of the Vietnam War:
Military Information You're Not Supposed to Know

. "Sir, No Sir"

The release of this documentary at this time can be taken as a way to hold a mirror up to the war of the moment. From the discomfort of the images and the inadvisability of official U.S. actions and intentions of a prior decade, one may project a time in the future when the Iraq war will be as universally agreed upon as an embarrassment for the warmongering politicians among us today, in 2006, as were the self-aggrandizing mental weaklings who sustained the fiasco of Viet Nam at such great pain and little reward some forty years ago. These things have their cycles.

Documentarian David Zeigler focuses on rebellion within the ranks during the Vietnam war and, thereby, presents a rather unique perspective while stirring up faded memories. In disclosing a movement within the military that paralleled the one on the popular front, he suggests it might have been more prevalent than most of us suspected. Certainly, it skews the realities toward an impression of a greater military breakdown than might actually have occurred, and it's here that we have to maintain some objective suspicion about an exaggerated viewpoint.

Was insubordination and rebellion as close to battlefield mutiny as this collection of clips and interviews suggests? They do, however, bring back to mind just how loudly and forcefully Americans may protest.

The threat of an aroused public to the politicians who cause grave injustice and loss of life should be noted in the corridors of power today, most especially among the elites who assemble in the White House on a regular basis -- those who are responsible for so much turmoil, death and miscalculation for their crony's rather than the nation's benefit.

The stream of recurring talking heads reminisce over their front and rear line resistance at the time, intercut with news clips. The interest level rises with the appearance of Jane Fonda, "Hanoi Jane," as she's known to her critics, heading up a song, dance and polemic show for the benefit of troops who are clearly on her side. All condemn the war and the warmongers conducting it while covering up their flaws. Interview footage with her recalling her full-bore immersion into the issue gets your attention, what with her celebrity and legendary lack of judgement. Her son, actor Troy Garity, narrates the film while she places her involvement in the best possible light.

The picture of American troops recalling their engagement in an unpopular guerilla war in a hostile nation is not a pretty one. The film makes its anti-war case insistently enough to remind us, through the prism of internal rebellion, to raise the question why another war would seem like such a good idea with the Vietnam debacle still radiating its negativity. But then, the coverups, misrepresentations and real purposes of this latest war are as obscurable as ever, so why not?

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  

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Jane Fonda and a fellow protester
A show for like-minded G.I.s
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