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We Were Soldiers........
Teacher
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Posted: Friday, March 10, 2006 - 05:26 AM UTC
I've just this minute finished watching this. Having never seen it before, I just felt I had to mention it here. One of the most moving films I've ever seen on this conflict. I feel profoundly moved.

Vinnie
Javlin813
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Posted: Friday, March 10, 2006 - 06:33 AM UTC
Teacher,

I cannot agree more! In fact I liked it so much I went and bought it the day after watching a rental. I think this is possibly the best war movie ever made.

I can't think of any other movie that managed to make both sides of the conflict appear as decent people, as well as illustrate the brutality of war.

Great movie!

Scott
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Posted: Friday, March 10, 2006 - 06:58 AM UTC
Vinnie:

If you enjoyed the movie, you ought to read the book. The movie only tells half the story. The second half of the story is about the 2nd Battalion's march from LX X-Ray to LZ Albany -- they were ambushed and it turned into a meat grinder.
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Posted: Friday, March 10, 2006 - 08:02 AM UTC
Not having served in Viet Nam I can't say this from personal experience, but from talking to vets I think it is probably the closest movie in terms of showing actual Viet Nam warfare.

My wife and I really enjoyed watching it the first time we saw it.

Henk
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Posted: Friday, March 10, 2006 - 08:21 AM UTC
I bought the DVD many moons ago and I agree, it's very good, I mean if it's like that in a movie, just try to understand what it must be like for real... I'm refering to the wifes watching the telegraphman coming up the street...
Must check out the book.

Cheers
Henk
Javlin813
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Posted: Friday, March 10, 2006 - 08:29 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Not having served in Viet Nam I can't say this from personal experience, but from talking to vets I think it is probably the closest movie in terms of showing actual Viet Nam warfare.



I think you're right. My boss served in Vietnam (and won the Bronze Star) and he said it's the only movie that has an affect on him.

Scott
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Posted: Friday, March 10, 2006 - 02:03 PM UTC
I really enjoyed that film. As helicopter crew i could relate to the emotions and determination of "[email protected]*$#". As for the guys on the LZ..... However, the most emotive part was when the troops charged the hill and the gunships opened up. Even in the midst of the carnage they had endured, the appalled and astonished looks on the GIs faces as the miniguns ripped into the enemy was a testimony to the true horror of warfare. The book is a sombre account of the event without the Hollywood jingoism, but a rivetting read. Another film I find gripping as helicopter crew is of course.... "Blackhawk Down". A bit to close to daily life on det for my liking
spooky6
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Posted: Friday, March 10, 2006 - 10:55 PM UTC
Seems I'm going against the flow here, but I must confess that I was rather disappointed with the movie (I read the book about 4 years ago, and watched the movie a year later).

As a war movie in itself it's pretty good, but quite selective in what it shows, and often too 'Hollywood'. Mel Gibson blazing away, when in reality the colonel apparently never once used his rifle during the battle. And the reporter in reality gets there just at the end in the book (which he co-wrote), after the fighting around the LZ was practically over.

Also the fact that the ambush of the 2nd Battalion (overrun while in column, the most brutal and terrifying portion of the book) was left out to make the Battle of the Ia Drang look like an outright victory instead of just inconclusive, I feel sells the story short.

I guess Hollywood just needs to tell it their way. Like showing the capture of the Mexican general at the end of 'The Alamo', when it had nothing to do with the alamo.
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Posted: Friday, March 10, 2006 - 11:08 PM UTC
Having read Vet's reviews of the film, there was very little 'Hollywood' about this film. Yes, small things were changed, as they'll always be. To compare it to the gross distortion of 'The Alamo' is ........ well I'll leave it to others to say what that is!

Vinnie
spooky6
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Posted: Friday, March 10, 2006 - 11:33 PM UTC
:-) I sort of cringed after posting that, coz I knew there'd be some incoming! If you get a chance, Vinnie, have a go at the book. There was a lot more to the Ia Drang fighting (the battle around the LZ was perhaps 50% of it) and the book covers it all.

As I said, it's a cool war movie. But I get a bit annoyed when a great book isn't done justice.
Teacher
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Posted: Friday, March 10, 2006 - 11:46 PM UTC
I totally agree with you! There's nothing worse than reading a good book and then seeing the movie of it , with all your favourite bits cut out! However, I sought out the reviews on line of this movie after seeing it, and they all seem to pretty much agree that it hasn't been 'Hollywoodized' to any great extent. It's even a favourite with Viet Vets. So to compare it with the Alamo.................well. Having said that I fully intend getting a copy of the book from somewhere, so at least I'll be able to form a primary opinion then.

Vinnie
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Posted: Saturday, March 11, 2006 - 12:06 AM UTC
James, they were decimated..........in fact far worse. Decimated is only 1 in 10 killed.

Vinnie
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Posted: Saturday, March 11, 2006 - 03:51 AM UTC

Quoted Text

just try to understand what it must be like for real... I'm refering to the wifes watching the telegraphman coming up the street...



I lived it. my dad went to Korea instead of "Nam because he had previously contracted malaria in WW2. We lived in a small community in Santa Clara Calif where a large number of the folks were military families with fathers / husbands in Nam. We all got caught up in that sort of thing. It was rough on my mother and me going to friends houses and having to help them deal with their grief. I still have to fast forward through that part it tears me up so bad and i won't let my mom watch it. Thank God she is't a fan of war flics. During the end of the conflict I had a friend go over and not come back. Of course there is an upside.....when they do come back the joy and happiness of the family was shared by all.

jazza
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Posted: Saturday, March 11, 2006 - 04:46 AM UTC
Ah great to hear you finally caught the movie Vinnie. Sam Elliot's character was a crack up though. Simply loved the "serious humour" if you could call it that. Especially the part where he was constantly greeted in the morning. Him and R. Lee Ermey make the best sergeants i reckon.
spooky6
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Posted: Saturday, March 11, 2006 - 02:22 PM UTC

Quoted Text

I sought out the reviews on line of this movie after seeing it, and they all seem to pretty much agree that it hasn't been 'Hollywoodized' to any great extent. It's even a favourite with Viet Vets.



Sure, the movie's very realistic in feel and style, and has captured a lot of the personality of that time. The actual combat sequences can't be faulted either (except for giving Gibson a shooting role), which was what many vets would have acclaimed. I'm not a Vietnam vet, but I am a veteran of a war that's very similar in terrain and style, so I can vouch for that. If you've not read the book, it's a great movie, if you have, it's just good I still think 'Hamburger Hill' is better.


Quoted Text

So to compare it with the Alamo.................well



Maybe I should explain myself here . Imagine watching 'A Bridge Too Far', and they leave out the whole end where the Germans recapture Arnhem and take the paras prisoner. Or the 'Eagle Has Landed', but they don't explain that the dead Churchill is just an actor. You get my meaning? Not showing the second half of the battle totally changes it's conclusion. It would have been OK if it was just fictitious characters in a historical battle ('Saving Private Ryan', 'Full Metal Jacket'), but this is based on an autobiographical account, one that is a serious piece of military literature (subtitled as 'Ia Drang -- the Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam), not just a memoir.

The fact that they chopped the title in half (the book is 'We Were Soldiers Once and Young') is symbolic.

I feel pretty much the same about that all time favourite 'Black hawk Down', but for the opposite reason. The movie ends leaving you a feeling of hopelessness and the impression that it was a defeat the US suffered at Mogadishu, when in reality (and if you read the book) Delta and the Rangers completed their mission. But casualties were higher than planned.

Hey! Who switched off the mike???
1969
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Posted: Saturday, March 11, 2006 - 08:43 PM UTC
Got this movie in collection and havent got round to watching yet,will make time for it now.
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Posted: Saturday, March 11, 2006 - 09:13 PM UTC
To put in my two cents...
I spoke with a Vietnam Vet that actually fought during the battle portrayed in We Were Soldiers and he agreed that, for the most part, the movie was very true to life and accurate. He said the most moving part was showing the two sides as both very smart and calculating, something that other movies don't do but should. He also said that he has a very hard time after watching Hamburger Hill because it is so realistic; he can't sleep for a day or two if he does.
Kyle
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Posted: Sunday, March 12, 2006 - 01:08 AM UTC

Quoted Text

I still think 'Hamburger Hill' is better.



Not sure it's better, but it's as least as good. My Dad, a Vietnam vet, said for many years that this was the most realistic Vietnam movie.

"Hamburger Hill" is certainly much better than "Platoon," which came out the year before (1986).

"84 Charlie Mopic" is another good one, but hardly anyone has seen it. It's the story of a LRRP patrol in Vietnam, all shot from a single hand-held camera, ala "Blair Witch Project." It's one of those amazing films that will make you want to rewind and re-watch certain scenes.

And though it has its flaws, "The Boys in Company C" is another favorite. It was R. Lee Ermey's movie debut (and before he got his teeth fixed). It's kind of the poor man's "Full Metal Jacket."
Vic
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Posted: Monday, March 13, 2006 - 10:08 PM UTC


Quoted Text

However, the most emotive part was when the troops charged the hill and the gunships opened up. Even in the midst of the carnage they had endured, the appalled and astonished looks on the GIs faces as the miniguns ripped into the enemy was a testimony to the true horror of warfare.




It's a great film but I have to agree that it has been altered. The impressive minigun ending didn't happen and like others have said there is a second and possibly worse part to the story that the film doesn't tell.

If the film moved you, you MUST read the book.
thathaway3
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Posted: Monday, March 13, 2006 - 10:27 PM UTC

Quoted Text


my dad went to Korea instead of "Nam because he had previously contracted malaria in WW2.



Talk about coincidences! We PCS'd from Germany in 1965 and my dad got orders to the 11th ACR, which at that time was stationed at Ft. Meade. Shortly after he was assigned, the unit received orders to deploy to Vietnam. While my dad did have enough time remaining before his scheduled retirement to complete a one year combat tour, (not that he WANTED to go) he was excluded from the deployment and transferred to another unit for the exact same reason, having contracted malaria during WW II.


I also agree that the movie is one of the best "war movies" I've ever seen. Not only does it do a tremendous job in portraying both sides with dignity, the "character studies" of the people, specifically the leadership qualities of (then) LTC Moore, the way his wife stepped up when the telegrams arrived and the "system" was unprepared to handle them, and the personality of the CSM were all magnificent.

The scene in the chapel between the battalion commander and the young 2LT had me screaming,
"Where the HELL was that kind of leadership and mentoring from MY Field Grade officers in my first unit??" Obviously a book and movie will paint a flattering picture of it's (co) author, but there is a reason he went on to wear 3 stars.

Tom
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Posted: Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - 01:19 AM UTC

Quoted Text

"84 Charlie Mopic" is another good one, but hardly anyone has seen it. It's the story of a LRRP patrol in Vietnam, all shot from a single hand-held camera, ala "Blair Witch Project." It's one of those amazing films that will make you want to rewind and re-watch certain scenes.



Noisiest damn recon team in existence walking round the foothills of California...
Seriously, it was a good concept, but let down a lot by inattention to detail and any semblance of military 'authenticity' - but it was obviously a low budget project and a good way of telling a story which (probably) couldn't have been done with such poignancy by a major studio.

'Boys in Company C' was, I thought, quite a good movie - it's one of the first Vietnam themed movies to come out after the fall of Saigon (beating the excellent 'Deerhunter' and 'Apocalypse Now').
I suspect one of the reasons it is misunderstood now is in it's unflattering portayal of the conduct of the war and individuals in it - there's a heck of a lot of revisionist history doing the rounds nowadays with regard to the American war in Vietnam, and many of those people who profess to love the vet today were probably the same as those who disparaged their efforts at the time.

Which brings me to 'We Were Soldiers...'
Read the book.
Then see the movie.
For all Mel Gibson's soulful big eyed acting and the heartstring plucking moments, the film is not the film of the book - many of the incidents that actually occurred are mirrored in the book and the film, but there was no storming of the Vietnamese positions to acheive that 'final victory' as seen in the film; higher command decided to bomb the area round Chu Phong with B52 and called for the evacuation of ground troops.
I think the film is - to a degree - dishonest, simply because it does not address the ambush and subsequent hand-to-hand combat that decimated 2nd Battalion 7th Cav - and that's the real story of the Ia Drang Valley.
But it seems you can't make a war movie nowadays that paints the US military as less than competent - revisionism in, facts out...

$0.02

acav

PS Late addendum - one show that's really worth catching is "Vietnam: The Soldier's Story"
"This documentary,a co-production of ABC News and The Learning Channel, comprises six sections: the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, a large-scale ambush by North Vietnamese regulars in 1965; the siege of Khe Sanh; the Tet Offensive; the "Secret War" in Cambodia and Laos; the air war; and the fall of Saigon.Narrated by Jack Smith,himself a decorated combat veteran(Ia Drang), son of veteran newsman, Howard K.Smith. Nothing can be more authentic than the voices of the men who fought it. Accompanied by graphic video footage. Companion book by Ron Steinman." - from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0324931/

The episode relating the Ia Drang story is particularly harrowing and should be on compulsory issue with every copy of 'We Were Soldiers' sold or rented...


moJimbo
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Posted: Sunday, May 07, 2006 - 11:04 AM UTC
just saw the dvd last weekend.... wow, the close-quarters battles are the most intense scenes i've seen in movies! i found WWS to be quite good in terms of action and emotional content as well, though MG's character is a bit overacting super-soldier type, if you ask me i.e: shooting the m-16 single-handed (?)...

that all being said, now i must get the book!

btw: what does 'garry owen' mean?
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Posted: Sunday, May 07, 2006 - 02:30 PM UTC
'Garry Owen' is an old Irish song featuring drinking and violence (imagine that!) which the 7th Cavalry adopted in the 19th century.

Garry Owen
ShermiesRule
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Posted: Sunday, May 07, 2006 - 05:32 PM UTC
When I saw the movie I had no idea it was a book and I didn't know the story beforehand. It was a great action flick but I had a problem with Mel Gibson as the US ommander. I still don't know if an Australian was the commander in real life.