AND POCKET-LINT - "WHAT ORDER SHOULD YOU WATCH THE BEST VIETNAM WAR FILMS?"
Parade's Neil Pond kicked off this weekend Friday with "50 Must-See War Films for Your Memorial Day Movie Marathon." "Encompassing everything from the awfulness of war to the far reaches of its absurdity," Pond states, "this list of the best war movies serves as our tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our prolonged times of peace." While the list is not numbered, Casualties Of War is the fourteenth film from the top:
Casualties of War (1989)
Best known for his work in the genres of suspense, crime, horror and thrillers (like Carrie, Scarface, The Untouchables and Body Double), director Brian de Palma takes a harrowing plunge into the battlefield with this take on a real-life incident about how an American soldier finds himself on the outside of his rogue squad when they kidnap a young Vietnamese woman and rape her. Michael J. Fox (who took time off from TV’s Family Ties to film) and Sean Penn give riveting performances on opposite sides of the situational-ethics line, and the movie marks the first film appearance of John C. Reilly.
Meanwhile, last week, Pocket-lint's Chris Hall attempted to place the best Vietnam films in a chronological viewing order:
The conflict in Vietnam spanned decades of fighting, from the outbreak of the war with France in 1946, through to the political and ideological division of the country into north and south which formed the foundation for the US involvement in Vietnam. That involvement escalated through advisory roles through the early 1960s, until emerging as full conflict around 1965.
For the USA, the era of the Vietnam War is surrounded by socially and culturally significant events in the homeland, the passage of Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon through the presidency and a rich depiction in a wide range of movies. There are a vast number of productions that owe their stories Vietnam, from the Rambo series, to Forrest Gump, the characterisation of The Simpson's Principal Skinner - "I was in 'Nam" - to those movies that actually tell the stories of Vietnam itself.
Here we present many of the best films that address Vietnam. We think the best order is chronological, based on the dates of the events depicted. But we're also giving a number of different approaches, which you can jump to in the table below, avoiding spoilers if you want to.
The best Vietnam movie viewing order (spoilers)
These are the movies we consider to be essential viewing not only for the stories that they tell, but how they tell those stories. They are ordered to fit the unfolding of events in the Vietnam War, although in some cases we deviate from that timeline when the emphasis of the film is on the return home, for example. Where there's no clear event being portrayed - because it's a fictionalised work - we've placed that movie in its position based on its content and context in the passage of the conflict.
The chronological order of films then goes like this:
- Good Morning, Vietnam
- We Were Soldiers
- Casualties of War
- Rescue Dawn
- Tour of Duty
- Full Metal Jacket
- Hamburger Hill
- Apocalypse Now
- Born on the Fourth of July
- The Deer Hunter
And here is Hall's description of Casualties Of War:
Casualties of War takes us into 1966, telling a true story reported by Daniel Lang in The New Yorker in 1969. Michael J Fox plays Max Eriksson, a "cherry" in Vietnam who joins a squad to head out to Hill 192. Squad leader Sergeant Meserve, played by a powerful Sean Penn, has other ideas for the mission, kidnapping a Vietnamese girl to take with them for a little "R&R". It's a haunting tale, depicting the breakdown of any sort of moral standards and the conflict between comrades that ensues. The 1989 film from director Brian De Palma pulls at many of the threads we see across Vietnam movies, particularly the dehumanisation of the Vietnamese reflected in the US GIs. Watch out for Dale Dye's appearance, who also stars in Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July.