Ken Burns & Lynn Novick: The Vietnam War

This documentary took way too long to finish because I had been watching it with my sons. My six-year-old Đán fell asleep ten minutes into each episode, but my nine-year-old Đạo who has profound interest in the history of wars watched every minute of the eighteen-hour series. At first, I was concerned about the gruesome images and adult languages for a nine-year-old, but the educational values outweighed the violent materials. He learned about the Vietnam war through this ten-part documentary as much as I had.

Even though I am much older than Đạo, I had not fully understand the complexity of the Vietnam war. It was over by the time I was born. Living in the US, I am constantly reminded of the war through musical shows, Asia Production in particular, hatred stories from the older generation of Vietnamese-Americans who fled the country, and painful experience from South Vietnamese veterans. For almost thirty years, I have only heard one side of the story. I understand their pain, suffering, loss, and lost, but I had always interested in the true, unbiased view of the war. Ken Burns and Lynn Novick have tried to accomplished that in their monumental documentary.

Written by Geoffrey C. Ward, narrated by Peter Coyote, produced by Sarah Botstein, Novick and Burns, The Vietnam War tells the story from all perspectives. It does not shy away from telling the truth about the dishonesty of the North Vietnam, the corruption of the South Vietnam, and the failure of the America. Every side involved was responsible for this bloody, brutal massacre. This excellent, evenhanded documentary has shed a light our tragic past and it is now a part of our history. The footages are breathtaking. The interviews, which ranged in different views, are convincing. The music, includes Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Cassandra Wilson, enhances the experience. A must-watch masterpiece.