From Lee Russell- Tour of Duty military advisor 1987-1989

Prospective writers of fiction about the US ARMY (as opposed to the US MARINE) experience of the Vietnam War might wish to view the following movies:

Tigerland (2000)
Gardens of Stone (1987)
Platoon (1986)

Tigerland explains the training environment soldiers went through, Gardens of Stone, the world of Stateside duty and the military “caste” system, and Platoon, of course, Vietnam combat. Pay special attention to the narration of Platoon, which explains, in great detail, the everyday reality of the infantry war in Vietnam. (Director/writer Oliver Stone was a combat infantryman and spent two tours in Vietnam.)

The Deer Hunter (1978)

This movie is recommended for its atmosphere and sense of what Vietnam meant at home, and how that changed over the war years. Ignore the bogus combat/POW and Russian roulette sequences, which are really the director’s metaphors for combat and the chance nature of death in battle.

Hamburger Hill (1987)
The Odd Angry Shot (1979) (This is actually about the Australian Special Forces in Vietnam.)

These two movies are recommended for their very realistic combat scenes. (Ignore the inaccurate depiction of US troops in the Australian movie.)

84 Charlie MOPIC (1989)

This is the ONLY movie made to depict long-range reconnaissance teams in anything like a realistic fashion. (The title refers to the Army’s Military Occupation Specialty code for motion picture combat cameraman.)

Heaven and Earth (1993)

This is the war from the viewpoint of the Vietnamese.

Northwest Passage (1940)

This movie has nothing to do with Vietnam, but is one of the best movies I have ever seen about warfare. A young recruit joins an elite American unit, just before it is sent on a dangerous mission to destroy a enemy base camp. The soldiers are veterans, led by a courageous and resourceful commander. The enemy is pitiless and cruel, but as brave and skilled as the Americans. The raid will be deep into their territory. The year is 1759. The enemy is the French and their Native American allies. There is a military axiom: “No plan survives the first contact with the enemy.” You can do everything right, and everything can still go wrong. Then the question is, what do you do NEXT?


Back to the Other Resources main page