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Steered by Randall Wallace, We Were Soldiers is a must-watch informative piece that tables the story of the Americans involvement in the Vietnam War of 1965. The movie acted by Mel Gibson as the starring, takes the audience into the vast Ia Drang valley based in southern Vietnam’s central highlands.
In the movie, American soldiers get into the battlefield under the captainship of Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore (Mel Gibson). On arriving in Vietnam, Gibson comes into recognition that an American base had been attached. As result, an order had been issued for him to seize the enemies and eliminate them in spite of his intelligence inadequate information on the number of troops that constituted his enemies, with his troop of 400 soldiers.
No matter the magnitude of the challenge, he led the air Calvary unit to Ia Drang valley that had 4000 to 6000 enormously equipped Vietnam soldiers. On landing in “the “Valley of Death”, the soldiers capture a North Vietnamese army lookout who informs them that the location they were sent is actually the Base camp of an entire North Vietnamese Army division of over 4,000 men” (Roark, Johnson, Cohen, Stage, Lawson, Hartmann 11).
The Vietnam commander toward the end acquires information that all his lines had been broken. Consequently, “Nguyen Huu An, accompanied by the remaining soldiers collects their fallen men’s bodies remains an Moore on the other hand, having accomplished his missions, goes back to L.Z” (Roark et al 93). awaiting to be picked up while all the other American soldiers are removed from the battle field gets to a helicopter and flies out.
At the end of the movie, it becomes evident that “Landing Zone immediately reverted to North Vietnamese hands after the American troops were airlifted out” (Roark et al 97). Back home, “Moore’s superiors congratulated him for having killed over 1800 Viet Cong and NVA soldiers” (Roark et al 75).
For the first one and half hours, watching the movie We Were Soldiers looks like something more close to Platoon by Oliver stone in Charlie Sheen together with his friends finds themselves overrun by NVA militants towards the end. Certainly, the battles in the We Were Soldiers are not very new: they have been experienced in other Hollywood movies.
However, in this particular case, they have been done a bit better, giving a more relevant and accurate record of the incidences of the Vietnam War. We Were Soldiers, however diverges a little from Stone’s Platoon in that it tend to be more of like yucky Sam Pechinpah where people get shot in slow-motion actions with a consequence of blood spattering all over with provision of opportunities for the audience to count the number of bullet holes in the bodies.
I see the movie tending to draw lessons on the world war saga while drawing very narrow line and allowing the audience to learn more about the enemy humanity. Through the movie, the viewer comes into acquaintance with the soldiers who manage to keep diary and capable of putting down all their entire sensitive stuff a little time before, similar to a maniac dashes into the battle field to engage with the Americans.
However, the movie does not have anything so new to add into already existing Vietnam War understanding. To me, Vietnam War is one of the worst battling engagements that the US has ever indulged in, characterized by worthless human live wastage, as result of potential politically instigated reasons aimed at stumbling on the philosophies of communism that had taken toll in Vietnam.
Battling Vietnam served to infringe pain and suffering to the civilian population of Vietnam. “What we have in We Were Soldiers is just a ‘feel good movie’ reflecting the encounters in Vietnam aimed at solving a catastrophe that has nothing good to feel about” (Roark et al 23). It makes me wonder why such a movie was done. Was it to raise money as evidenced by the movie’s popularity with a sale amounting to millions of dollars on release?
Examples of historical events
Racism is one of the historic phenomena of the US. Over the years, attempts have been ardently made to curb humanity discrimination based on racist stereotypes.
It could be however the reason why in We Were Soldiers, we encounter a character, Chris Klein, playing part of Jack Geoghegan and one who dies attempting to save a wounded black American. Despite the existence of racism during the movie, the same Geoghegan marches in a tender way to check out the bare foot of the same black man. During the war, Geoghegan died attempting to save a black man.
It on this account that reflects the onset of recognition humanity equality irrespective of skin color, eye color and so forth especially with adverts of Christianity given that Geoghegan was a Christian missionary before his commissioning. On the other hand, Julie (Madeleine Stowe), Moore’s wife and Barbara Geoghengan takes the work of telegrams delivery to other soldier’s families in Georgia about the units operations and of the soldier’s deaths.
This is actually reflective of the American historic encounters of that period in which women had, and were continuing to fight for a competitive position in the world of male dominance. One of such attempts was incorporation of women in the military. Although there are no encounters are made elsewhere of women soldiers, Julie and Barbara makes the historic dream of incorporating women in the battlefield come true.
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The US seventh Calvary was new and thus its success in the Vietnam War registered an important historical success. “Uniforms, weapons and especially aircraft were expertly accurate” (Roark et al 102). Particularly interesting is to see two A-1 “Sandys” giving close support in the air. “There were also sorties by F-100 Super Sabers, an F-4 Phantom and an A-4 Skyhawk (Roark et al 102).
The warring technique was also historical. “Here, for the first time, a large number of the U.S. troops used Huey helicopters to fly into hostile territory, jump off, and go straight into battle, a technique that became standard practice throughout the Vietnam War” (Roark et al 102).
In the movie the computer graphics are done to effectively give an almost true reflection of the real ground complete scenario. Vietnam War with sophisticated warring equipment marked US military war sophistication perhaps one of the reasons contributing to its perception as superpower. The US until now engages in battles to win but not to lose.
Throughout We Were Soldiers, appearance of actor Sam Elliot, who also appears in Gettysburg, a war movie is reflected in the audience mind. His appearance in We Were Soldiers help, maintain the historic association of the American soldiers with bold and determination in fighting for superiority of their nation as depicted in their military pledge.
It thus appears as if Hollywood deployed Sam to act as a link between the historical events in the Gettysburg and we were soldiers in the “bayonet charge led by Union Colonel Joshua Chamberlain that turned back the Confederate assault on Little Round Top on July 2, 1863” (Roark et al 91). Even though Ia Drang valley was not a little rounded top, the order by Colonel Chamberlain for fixation of bayonets marked the legendary historic moments of American history of the military.
However, Colonel Moore never followed such a similar approach to topple his enemies 102 years down the line. This unfolded another military history of the US. Moore’s men deployed the technique of “hug the terrain and rely upon massed firepower to turn back the enemy” (Roark et al 31). This was rather new technique but was equally successful.
How the movie shaped today’s society
The events that is portrayed in the movie ‘We Were Soldiers’ shape the society in various ways which are reflected in the societies approach to political issues, music and culture. It is common to see in the modern music videos characters acting as if they were engaged in the military operation reminiscent of the movie ‘we were soldiers’ such as the way they get out of the vehicles hurriedly.
Young children imitate the military while playing with their colleagues using toy guns while the entire society has been shaped into adopting new mechanism of approaching to solutions of political stalemate for example, opting for shuttle diplomacy as opposed to military confrontations which amounts to ruthless loss of human lives: in most cases the innocent civilians.
Roark, James, Johnson, Michael, Cohen, Patricia, Stage, Sarah, and Hartmann, Susan. The American Promise: A History of the United States. New York: Bedford/St. martins, 2008.