This is a documentary about the Vietnam war in the ‘70s, but about one episode in particular: during the 1975 evacuation of the American Embassy in Saigon. There
is no partisan rage involved in storytelling, even though this political episode is more often than not, doused in acts of treachery, heroism, and constant danger. The calm effects of the retrospect is one where the frames are in confessional style, but impersonal – its impersonal and that is just how it should be, because too much emotions get in the way of a good story being told, the way it needs to be.
The American collective of the Vietnam war is largely factual, illustrated with the occasional photographs, even if it might seem like a dozen too many, to some. So, in this documentary the first shot is of a helicopter as people, hopelessly try to escape and get on it. These people were stationed there, who had chosen to be there, such as Henry Kissinger, the Secretary of the State at the time, were placed under imminent danger,
alongside numerous Vietnamese forces, because the northern faction of the country had gone against the Paris Peace Accords (1973) and decided to swallow the divided country, entirely.
The film explores this story further, and in grand detail as one after another airlift picks up people, from the embassy to American ships, guarded by embassy guards, journalists and military personnel. And then you get to hear of the first-hand experiences, of those who made it out and even those who, in the end, unfortunately, didn’t. I found the film,
complete, no revenge-drama prevailing anywhere, just factual information that weaves together as history on screen. Nonetheless, it would have been great if we could have zeroed in on one of the central figures of the drama, Graham Martin, a former American Ambassador, who passed away in 1990, long before this documentary was shot.
Film rating: 8/10.