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But what matters is that, over the decades, Davis’s work has become confirmed history, history that we must learn from—or be condemned to relive.Second only to his prescience is Davis’s directorial style, an evenhandedness in counterpointing the American and the Vietnamese experience.The interviews provide hidden details of our support of the French rule of Vietnam and of our diplomatic interest in South Vietnam’s subsequent rule in the fifties and thereafter.
The film’s release in the United States was delayed.
Threatened lawsuits and negotiations ensued, and a change of distributor led to its general release in March 1975.
eter Davis’s provocative, Oscar-winning Hearts and Minds, released to the American public in 1974, is that rare documentary whose truths and relevance have been underlined and amplified by the passage of time. Johnson’s noting, as he escalated American involvement in the Vietnam War, that “the ultimate victory will depend on the hearts and minds of the people who actually live out there.” But Davis’s triumph is that he is even more concerned with the hearts and minds of Americans.
And though its time setting is the ten-year foreign war that cost some 60,000 American lives and caused internal upheaval and a bitter aftermath, his work endures as a touchstone for our concept of Americanism, patriotism, and personal and political principle.
“If my chick at home could see us now,” one says with a snicker.
Quick cut to another GI using a Zippo to inflame a thatched roof, some of his buddies using torches, others herding old people, women, and children away from their huts, a few striking young men to the ground with rifles.“I could remember when people called me ‘blanket ass’ and ‘chief,’” but, simply put, “I wanted to go out and kill some gooks.” A returned Navy flier in sparkling whites, asked by a parochial school child what Vietnam looked like, replies, “If it wasn’t for the people, it [would be] very pretty.” Davis is a master of counterpointing by quick cutting.Two sequences have become locked in my memory over the years, epitomizing his art.He does so with the total engagement of our hearts and minds.This piece originally appeared in the Criterion Collection’s 2002 DVD edition of Hearts and Minds.In another sequence, a young Saigon businessman in his office describes himself as “a Johnny-come-lately, as far as war profiteering is concerned,” and talks of his agglomeration of American business franchises in anticipation of peace.Quick cut to what, for a second or two, looks like a factory worker polishing pink plastic.There is another aspect of the American psyche that Davis explores, again using a point-counterpoint technique that contrasts statements by Americans with searing vignettes of the Vietnamese experience, to cumulative effect.General William Westmoreland notes that “the Oriental doesn’t put the same high price on life as does the Westerner.” A Native American veteran, “brought up to be a warrior,” with “lots of relations who’d been in the Marine Corps,” joined.He does not become greater by good action nor inferior by bad action. Interestingly though, current medical science evidences how the physical heart is more than just a pump, indeed, has a little brain of its own.He is the Lord of All, the Overlord of Beings, the Protector of Beings." "So when the Bridegroom/the Word, came to me, he never made known his coming by any signs, not by sight, not by sound, not by touch. The neurological, hormonal & electromagnetic influence of the heart extends to all tissues, whereas its torus affects the direct environment of the organism. In general, the word "Divine" refers to "supernatural", meta-nominal phenomena.