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Winter Soldier (1972)

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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Milliarium Zero
Genre: Documentary, Military
Running Time: 95 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: French, German
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Synopsis
This important 1972 documentary, which is reportedly well-researched and factual, was refused airing on the television networks of its day. It concerns reports of atrocities committed by U.S. soldiers in Vietnam and includes numerous interviews with Vietnam veterans who either saw or participated in them. The anguished testimony of these soldiers is difficult to refute. The film is based on the 1971 Detroit Winter Soldier Investigation, which interviewed over 200 G.I.s. The film weaves footage of their testimony with shots taken in Vietnam, and details how ordinary people can learn to become brutal in combat situations. Because of the challenge this film offered to the U.S. government at the time, the filmmakers, frightened, asked that their names remain anonymous. ~ Clarke Fountain, All Movie Guide


GreenCine Member Reviews

History Repeating by talltale June 3, 2006 - 5:00 PM PDT
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1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
No country is always right in what it does. Every country--just as every person--makes mistakes. Why is it so difficult to admit to these? That question may come up as you watch WINTER SOLDIER, a must-see documentary (long withheld from view) that is very nearly impossible NOT to look away from, or more likely, cover your ears against the quietly deafening words uttered by this group of Viet Nam veterans about the atrocities they both witnessed and committed during the greatest mistake--until Iraq--in our country's post-WWII history. (Some might call Korea the greater mistake.)

Watching & hearing these young men should make us truly ashamed for ourselves and for our country. For those of us who did not serve, how can we be sure we would not have done exactly the same? Or gone insane from the pressure of that enormous disconnect between what no civilized humans could do--and what they did? A few scant years ago, we could have said that the testimony given here might help prevent this sort of thing from happening again. No longer, though--as massacres by American soldiers against Iraqi civilians grow more numerous.

"Winter Soldier" never received the television airing it was supposed to have had in 1972. Withholding truth because it might damage reputations is never smart and often deadly. Vietnam was televised into our living rooms, and this helped end that horrible devastation. Given the lies & appalling secrecy of the current administration, what chance is there for Iraq? For any of you screaming "My country, right or wrong!" I ask you to finish that famous sentence. Here it is in full, as uttered by Senator Carl Schurz, back in 1872, against America's Imperialistic tendencies: "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." But by whom? And how? And when?

The Horror by ZenBones June 3, 2006 - 12:24 AM PDT
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5 out of 5 members found this review helpful
This is virtually ninety-plus minutes of testimonials of 'war crimes' by Vietnam vets at a conference in 1971, and while all of the atrocities - there's no other word for them - were the kinds of things I'd seen before, the sheer numbers were what got to me. Not the numbers of tortured and dead; that number I don't suppose I'll ever digest. It's the numbers of decent Americans like you or me who through exaggerated training of 'manhood', became savages. One can better understand what it must have been like to come home to our normal world of shopping malls, fast food, and sitcoms, and try to stuff back the memories and repressed emotions that made one kill children for fun and hack off body parts for a reward of a six-pack. Actually, I still can't understand it. I don't suppose I'll ever know at one point one stops becoming human, but at least I did find some hope in seeing these hundreds of men who found their humanity again after the war. Don't think that this is a film that tries to make Americans look bad, for virtually every culture in the world has had its share of atrocities. The atrocities are the symptom; war is the disease. From that perspective, I wish the film had gone further in having someone articulate the ignorance that these guys had in even going into this war. They really only understood why they were sent to fight when they returned, and it's that ignorance that is the virus that our government - that all governments and extremists - like to spread. The most upsetting image I saw in this film was a snapshot of an American soldier smiling over the exposed body of one of his kill. The chill down the back of my neck hit me before my mind brought up what it reminded me of. The smile on that soldier's face was the exact same smile that one of the soldiers Abu Ghraib had as he stood over a pile of naked bodies and crooked his thumbs up in a sign of victorious glee. The horror is that it just never stops.




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