The 5 Best Vietnam War Documentaries

The Vietnam War has proven to be one of the most controversial wars in American history, opinion has long been split among US citizens as to whether it was a justified war while others were embarrassed by America’s lack of success and returning veterans often treated with disdain. A huge number of Vietnam Vets have gone on to develop drug and alcohol problems or commit suicide. There have been dozens of great films and documentaries on the war, the five below are among the very best. All can be watched for free right here on DocumentaryVine.

Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam (1987)

There have been so many documentaries made about Vietnam that it would take something very special to gain any major recognition. Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam was awarded two Emmy Awards and was a Sundance winner. It achieved that success because it was such a unique concept, it focuses around letters sent home to America by men serving in Vietnam, many of whom did not make it home alive. The documentary was based on a book of the same name, in the book many of the letters featured can be read in full. Watch here.

Vietnam: An American Holocaust (2008)

When does a ‘war’ become a ‘holocaust’? This highly critical documentary narrated by Martin Sheen discusses whether the Vietnam War was merely nothing other than a holocaust against the Vietnamese people carried out by Americans at the order of their government. The argument is supported by interviews with various Vietnam War Veterans, Vietnamese people who witnesses the carnage, and various important political and media figures from the period. Some five million people lost their lives in the Vietnam War, mostly killed by incendiary bombs. The film presents a compelling argument that that the war was nothing other than a sustained slaughter of mostly innocent people by Americans who were forced to take part. Watch here.

In The Year of the Pig (1968)

In The Year of the Pig was, at the time of its release at the height of the Vietnam war, an extremely controversial documentary. It was highly anti-war, presented disturbing images and honest accounts of American activities in the war from veterans. The film was received with hostility from pro-war patriot groups, some cinemas even received bomb threats to stop them from showing it. Despite attempts to suppress the film it was still screened in cinemas across America and was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary and it remains possibly the most historically important film about the Vietnam War for its role in growing the anti-war sentiment in the US. Watch here.

Hearts and Minds (1974)

Another hugely controversial film followed in 1974, Colombia Films owned the rights but refused to release it to the public. The producers of the documentary had to purchase back the rights before it could be shown, it subsequently won an Academy Award in 1975. Hearts and Minds featured the now iconic image of a young girl running naked and in agony from a napalm attack which had burnt her back. The film was, naturally, well received by anti-war activists but was met with anger from patriotic pro-war Americans. It is another film which will go down as one of the most historically important Vietnam War films ever made. Watch here.

The Battle of Long Tan (2006)

The Battle of Long Tan was a major strategic victory for allied forces in Vietnam, but this wasn’t your typical battle success, it was a battle won by the Australians! The battle occurred after an Australian regiment met a Vietnamese regiment in a rubber plantation just outside of the village of Long Tan. The battle has been used as an example of strategic military excellence ever since and it remains of cultural and historic significance to the Australians who celebrate Vietnam Veterans Remembrance Day on the anniversary of the first day of the battle of Long Tan (18th August). This documentary is a televised account of that battle. Watch here.

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