Putting the Vietnam War On-Screen — Here Are 10 of Our Favorite Films About the Vietnam War

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The involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War has inevitably led to a plethora of Vietnam War films. But why is this? Is the intent to glorify war, and, in particular, what happened in Vietnam?

We don’t think so.

Film — or any other kind of art form — is created, or performed, in order to understand something. And the Vietnam War was a confusing time for many, if not all. In effect, as you’ll see on this list of our top 10 Vietnam War Films, there is a wide degree of variance from one film to the next, whether it be geographical location, or genre, or tone.

Enjoy!

*Have a favorite that we forgot to include? Let us know in the comment section!

10. RESCUE DAWN

(2006, directed by Werner Herzog)

Dieter Dangler, a US fighter pilot, is shot down over Laos and left with one goal after walking away from the crash: survival. As if the jungle isn’t harsh enough, he soon is captured and taken to a Laotian POW camp. The film glorifies nothing, often taking the viewer closer and closer to the breaking psyches of the soldiers forced to endure the bizarre day-to-day routine of a POW camp.


9. HAMBURGER HILL

(1987, directed by John Irvin)

This film tells the true story of the 10-day battle for Hill 937 in the A Shau Valley of Vietnam. It takes the viewer to the brink of brutality from the eyes of 14 soldiers as they enter and endure what has since become known as one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War.


8.TIGERLAND

(2000, directed by Joel Schumacher)

Led by Colin Farrell’s performance as nonconforming Pvt. Roland Bozz, Tigerland is a character-driven drama about draftees undergoing Advanced Infantry Training at Fort Polk, Louisiana in 1971. The film honestly explores the ideas of leadership and self-doubt, and does so in a gritty fashion.


7. FULL METAL JACKET

(1987, directed by Stanley Kubrick)

From boot camp to battle, Stanley Kubrick’s study on the Vietnam-era United States Marine isn’t always pretty. Meaning: Kubrick does not shy from the sheer brutality of war, nor the psychological effects it has on young men. To this day, R. Lee Ermey’s opening scene as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman remains one of the most accurate portrayals put on screen.

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G.D. resides in West Michigan. When he isn’t writing (or editing), you can find him outside, riding a bike, reading a book, or just plain running. Other interests include sports (of any kind), music (again, any kind) and cinema (a bit pickier here).