We Were Soldiers Analysis

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Scott Johnson
HIST. 1700
Term Project
Film Analysis/Review

It’s a known fact that that the Vietnam War was fought by young American soldiers that bled and died next to one another in the jungles of Vietnam. With many wins and loses throughout the war there were over 58,000 American casualties by wars end. The movie, “We Were Soldiers” focuses on the role of the United State’s 7th Calvary Regiment in the Battle of Ia Drang, which was the first large-unit battle of the Vietnam War. Lt. Col. Hal Moore commanded the 7th Calvary Regiment that landed a helicopter in an area named “X-Ray” located in the Ia Drang Valley of Vietnam. LT. Col. Moore found himself and his men defending an area no bigger than the size of a football field surrounded by an overwhelming North Vietnamese army. For the most part, this movie portrays a factual and historical account of this battle; however, some parts of the movie were not found to be historically accurate.

In the film “We Were soldiers”, the images were one of the most important keys in conveying the historical truth of the Battle of Ia Drang. Many photographs taken during the actual battle by Joseph Galloway allowed Hollywood to visualize and recreate the battle scenes. These photographs reflected the pain and anguish of the soldiers; the bloodiness of the battle; and the landscape and vegetation of the area. The movie used graphic images to show how the American troops were outnumbered 395 to 4,000 North Vietnam soldiers and how they were fighting within feet of the each other. The film also showed some of Mr. Galloway’s black and white photographs of the actual battlefield. The black and white images of soldiers dying during combat help portray the actual events of the battle. I felt a deeper understanding of the pain and suffering of those soldiers and what they had to do to survive. In addition, many Hollywood war movies portray the main character as much more of a heroic individual than what they really were. This film does not glorify war, but shows how bloody and gruesome battles during the Vietnam War really were and the small heroism that actually occurred.

There are a couple of concepts that show up throughout the film that are not normally part of an action war movie but tell us that there are similarities between us and our enemies. One concept shows the best and worst of humanity by showing us that just because someone is our enemy does not make them evil or less of a human being. The Vietcong are shown taking orders, just like their American counterparts. The film portrays both Vietcong and American soldiers, even though they were fighting against each other and dying for their countries, as human with their deaths bringing grief and sadness to the soldiers around them as well as their loved ones at home. In one particular scene, a Vietcong soldier is writing a letter to his wife. At the end of the movie, the wife of the Vietnamese soldier is shown reading a letter from her husband along with a letter from her nation’s army about his death. These concepts in the film show the similarities and parallelisms that actually occurred in real life on both sides of the war.

The movie also shifted occasionally from the battlefield to the home front depicting the reaction of the wives to the news they received about their United States soldiers. The fear and anxiety that the women felt as the taxicab delivered messages of lost soldiers and the way in which two women strived to ease some of this pain. Lt. Col. Moore’s wife and another woman began accepting all the messages from the taxicab and hand delivered the bad news giving support to the women who lost their husbands. Although I think this diversion detracted from the film, I can appreciate that the film attempted to show another side of the War.

The production team spared no expense when it came to the recreation and props of the...
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