Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sean Kelly

Doc Thoughts: Last Days in Vietnam

Last-Days-in-VietnamThe final weeks of the Vietnam War are recounted in the Oscar-nominated documentary Last Days in Vietnam.  After the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1973, the U.S. military withdrew from Vietnam and it was hoped that North and South Vietnam would co-exist with each other.  However, things changed following the resignation of Richard Nixon and, in the spring of 1975, the North Vietnamese began of full-on invasion of South Vietnam.  With the North Vietnamese forces rapidly approaching Saigon, the remaining Americans in the country are ordered to evacuate.  During the evacuation efforts, a number of Americans risk treason by trying to save as many South Vietnamese that they can.

The Vietnam War probably goes down in history as the time when America was shown not to be invincible in their military efforts.  While there was hope for peaceful co-existence between North and South Vietnam, that hope was shattered when the North Vietnamese successfully invaded the South and overtook Saigon.

Featuring archival footage and interviews with those involved, Last Days in Vietnam recounts the final events of the Vietnam War, with particular focus on the remaining American’s evacuation from the country.  A major point of contention during this evacuation are the many South Vietnamese who assisted the Americans during the war.  Are the Americans just going to leave them behind or will some effort be made to assist them in leaving the country?

Even though it was against their orders, a number of Americans did indeed assist with the evacuation of thousands of South Vietnamese refugees.  In fact, the main event documented in Last Days in Vietnam is the airlifting of Americans out of the American embassy in Saigon.  Over 2000 South Vietnamese refugees managed to get themselves into the embassy and the ambassador made the decision for the helicopters to take as many of them as they can before he is willing to board.  These were definitely some nail-biting events, especially since the evacuation was going against the clock, with the North Vietnamese tanks on their way into Saigon.

In the face of certain defeat, a number of Americans risked everything to save as many South Vietnamese as possible at the end of the Vietnam War.  While consisting entirely of archive footage and talking head interviews, Last Days in Vietnam told a gripping story that rivals most Hollywood thrillers.  This documentary most definitely makes for a quite enthralling watch.

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Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).