Hearts and Minds

It was another warm day, unusual for February. I spent the day preparing for my class, grading papers and preparing a homework assignment. I also set up a spreadsheet for grades. I had a turkey burger for a late lunch, then went back to work. The lecture went until about 6:30, and I was tired. I came home to watch Garry Shandling on the Tonight Show from May 8, 1992. I watched “Hearts and Minds” on Blu-ray. I can’t say that high definition enhanced this movie because the power of it wasn’t in it clarity of the images. Daniel Ellsberg spoke eloquently, and the editing must have helped, because it real life, he rambles and does stop talking once he starts. I wonder how much footage of him they shot for this movie. I could hardly believe that the filmmakers got footage of the Americans with the Vietnamese prostitutes. You could watch the scenes of destruction over and over and never comprehend how it could happen. When the villagers see their homes get torched by the flamethrowers, they look numb. What comes across is the mistaken belief that Vietnamese are lesser human beings, and that they don’t place as much value on life as Americans. We see a scene of a child weeping painfully over a grave, which contradicts that foolish notion, as well as William Westmoreland’s comments. One shocking scene showed an execution with a bullet to a man’s head. He falls down and blood gushing out sickeningly. Knowing that it’s real makes it really jolting and unlike the movies. In the context of this movie, a scene with a football coach going nuts and motivating his players by screaming at them and hitting them is comical. I would find it hard to live if I was the cause of pain and suffering and death, no matter what the reasons for war was. I shuddered at the scene that should what napalm did to children. It looked extremely painful, with the skin that was peeling off. This film does seem to be a product of a different time, because I think of a lot of young people today chanting “U.S.A.” during soccer games. I think it’s important to see this movie again, because I think that people still misunderstand Asians. In fact, they don’t want to get to know them, finding their names hard to pronounce and their languages too difficult to understand. I thought that if I were to make a documentary on the Vietnam War, I’d want to focus on what happened there. It might be something like “Platoon” without the symbolism. I wonder what happened to the people who were interviewed for “Hearts and Minds.” It’s been 42 years since its release. The disc had special features like an audio commentary track with Peter Davis, and some unused footage. I don’t recall what Frank Sinatra said at the Academy Awards show after the movie won the Best Documentary Oscar. I fell asleep and awoke to see part of “Sudden Impact,” the Dirty Harry movie that featured Sondra Locke. The revenge theme was certainly disturbing. Some of the people who died on February 10 include Laura Ingalls Wilder (1957), Alex Haley (1992), Jim Varney (2000), Arthur Miller (2005), and Roy Scheider (2008). Today is a birthday for Laura Dern (49), George Stephanopoulos (55), Mark Spitz (66), Roberta Flack (79), and Robert Wagner (86). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for February 10, the western television series “My Friend Flicka” made its debut on CBS in 1956. In 1962, Henry Mancini was Number One on the U.S. album chart with the soundtrack to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” In 1976, Diana Ross released her album “Diana Ross,” featuring the theme from “Mahogany” and “Love Hangover.”

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