“I didn’t like being an animal, and I didn’t like seeing everybody else be an animal.”
During a truth commission held by Vietnam Veterans Against the War, ex-soldiers testify about the atrocities they (and others) committed.
Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this “gut-wrenching, myth-shattering” documentary makes for “horrifying, unforgettable, essential viewing”. Filmed by a collective team of directors in Detroit, Soldier is as close to “pure” documenting as one could hope for — all cameras are focused on the veterans as they share their horror stories, and it’s the power of these cumulative narratives which carries the film. Story after story reveals the daily atrocities soldiers were asked (and expected) to commit against the Vietnamese — all of whom were treated as The Enemy. Soldiers were told that “any dead Vietnamese is a V.C.”, and were explicitly encouraged to increase body counts. Though we may have read about such heinous practices in the abstract, hearing about them from the mouths of real men is an entirely different experience. One can’t help feeling grateful that at least these long-haired veterans were given the opportunity to “confess their sins” in public, and hopefully help not only others, but themselves as well.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Countless powerful, personal testimonies of crimes against humanity committed in Vietnam
Yes. Along with Hearts and Minds (1974) and In the Year of the Pig (1968), this remains one of a handful of must-see documentaries about the Vietnam War.