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Film Review: Searing ‘Last Days in Vietnam’ Documents Vital History

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

CHICAGO – It has been nearly 40 years since the Vietnam War truly ended, with the desperate events during the Fall of Saigon. “Last Days in Vietnam” is a brilliant new documentary that puts it all in perspective, the final surreal folly of America’s nightmarish involvement in the Vietnam War. Director Rory Kennedy – the youngest daughter of Robert F. Kennedy – generates a precise and gripping document that lingers long after it has been experienced.

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 5.0/5.0

Veteran filmmaker Rory Kennedy knows her way around a story, and takes the talking heads – including the ancient ex-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger – and combines their insights with the copious amount of archival footage regarding the event (the TV network news divisions at the time were at their peak in actually covering stories on the ground). Over a period of two months, in March and April of 1975, the whole of the Vietnam War participation for the United States came crashing down, with the capture by the Northern Viet Cong armies of the South Vietnam capital of Saigon. Kennedy goes step-by-step through those frantic hours, as lives hung in the balance, and promises were both kept and broken.

After the Paris Peace Accord in January of 1973, U.S. troops were withdrawn from the battlefields of Vietnam and a territorial truce took place between the Communist North Vietnam and the Republic of South Vietnam. The impact of that troop withdrawal for the South was immediate, as Northern aggressors were free to escalate an offensive, with Americans sick of the war and President Richard M. Nixon caught up in the domestic scandal of Watergate.

Nixon resigned his office in August of 1974, and the North Vietnamese army began to swallow up more and more territory, until – to the utter surprise of the war’s lingering observers – they were about to conquer the South capital of Saigon. In a tense and bloody three weeks in April of 1975, the Vietnam War came to a bitter ending, with the evacuation of the last Americans in Saigon, and the takeover of that city from an enemy that couldn’t be stopped.

“Last Days in Vietnam” continues its limited release in Chicago on October 3rd, with an appearance and Q&A with director Rory Kennedy at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, 3733 N. Southport Avenue, at 7:10pm. Click here for details. Written by Mark Bailey and Kevin McAlester. Directed by Rory Kennedy. Not Rated.

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Last Days in Vietnam”

Last Days of Vietnam
Saigon Rooftop and Helicopter Evacuation in ‘The Last Days of Vietnam’
Photo credit: American Experience Films

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Last Days in Vietnam”

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