Over the past week or so I’ve been slowly watching The Vietnam War, a documentary on Netflix by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, and it’s just completely, impossibly brilliant.
I’m not sure if this has ever happened in war documentaries before but the show interviews all sides, Americans as well as North and South Vietnamese, as the veterans tell their side of the story of the same conflict, the same battle even. It’s horrifying and frightening but there are so many stories that need to be heard here. One North Vietnamese veteran looks at the interviewer as they discuss the use of napalm by the American Air Force, and he looks at her and says “The world became an ocean of fire. Can you imagine an ocean of fire?”
Not only has the show got a wonderful format and director to boot, but the score that accompanies it is fantastic as well. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross fill almost every scene with brooding anger and broken harmonies. To be quite honest though I’m an enormous Nine Inch Nails fan and the work that the two have done for scores and other soundtracks is probably my favorite sort of music.
Anyway, I would highly recommend that you put some time aside to watch this thing. It’s tough going and shocking but it needs to be watched. The Vietnam War asks that we look deep into the heart of this ugly moment in time, so that we may never make the same mistakes again.