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10 of the Best Vietnam War Movies

The Vietnam War, a pivotal and controversial period in history, has been the backdrop for many powerful and enduring movies. These films offer us a glimpse into the experiences of those who lived through this tumultuous time, providing an intimate exploration of war's complexities.

Let's delve into some of the best Vietnam War movies that have left an indelible mark on cinema. We will also explore a selection of the most impactful Vietnam War movies that have made a lasting impression on screen.

a depiction of war in Silhouette with text: "Vietnam War Movies"

What is the Vietnam War?

The Vietnam War, a significant conflict in the 20th century, occurred from November 1, 1955, to April 30, 1975. It involved Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, with the U.S. supporting South Vietnam against communist North Vietnam and its Viet Cong allies.

The war was marked by intense combat, leading to nearly 60,000 American deaths. It was the longest and one of the most unpopular wars in American history, ending with the fall of Saigon and U.S. forces' withdrawal.

What are Vietnam War movies?

Vietnam War movies provide a cinematic exploration of one of the most controversial periods in American history. These films, often gritty and realistic, focus on the experiences of soldiers, the political climate, and the war's impact on both Vietnamese and American societies.

They range from action-packed dramas to profound psychological studies, offering varying perspectives on the conflict. These movies have played a crucial role in shaping perceptions and understanding of the Vietnam War.

What movies were based on the Vietnam War?

There are many movies that have been made about the Vietnam War. Here are films that delve into this historical event:

Apocalypse Now
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen (Actors)

Apocalypse Now

This film is often mentioned as one of the best depictions of the Vietnam War. It's known for its realistic and gritty portrayal of the war. The story follows Captain Benjamin L. Willard (played by Martin Sheen), who is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade colonel (Marlon Brando) who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe.

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war image

Platoon
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger (Actors)

Platoon

This movie is a 1986 American war film that offers a gritty and realistic depiction of the Vietnam War. This film offers a gritty depiction of a U.S. Army infantry platoon in Vietnam, showcasing the horrors and moral dilemmas of war.

The narrative follows Chris Taylor, a naive young American who volunteers for combat in Vietnam, played by Charlie Sheen. Taylor finds himself caught in a battle of wills between two sergeants—one good (Willem Dafoe) and the other evil (Tom Berenger).

The Deer Hunter
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Rober DeNiro, Christopher Walken (Actors)

The Deer Hunter

The Deer Hunter (1978) is a powerful drama that explores the impact of the Vietnam War on the lives of small-town steelworkers from Pennsylvania. The film, directed by Michael Cimino, is renowned for its intense Russian roulette scenes and its poignant exploration of friendship, trauma, and the cost of war. It features outstanding performances from Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, and Meryl Streep.

Casualties Of War (Extended Cut)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Sean Penn, Michael J. Fox, Don Harvey (Actors)

Casualties of War

This war drama, directed by Brian De Palma, is based on the actual events of the incident on Hill 192 during the Vietnam War. The film follows a young soldier, Private Max Eriksson (played by Michael J. Fox), who is caught in a moral crisis when members of his platoon kidnap and rape a young Vietnamese girl.

The film explores themes of morality, violence, and the dehumanizing effects of war, with standout performances from Fox and Sean Penn.

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The Boys in Company C

The Boys in Company C (1978) is a war film that chronicles the lives of five young Marine inductees from diverse backgrounds during the Vietnam War. Directed by Sidney J. Furie, the film explores their experiences of basic training, the realities of combat, and the corruption they encounter. It's known for its critique of the military system and its depiction of the dehumanizing effects of war.

Hamburger Hill
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Anthony Barrile, Michael Boatman, Don Cheadle (Actors)

Hamburger Hill

This is a war film released in 1987, directed by John Irvin. It portrays the true story of the U.S. Army's 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, and their assault on Hill 937, nicknamed “Hamburger Hill”, during the Vietnam War. The battle was one of the bloodiest of the Vietnam War, with the hill earning its nickname due to the heavy casualties suffered by the American forces. The film highlights the brutality of war and the camaraderie among soldiers.

We Were Soldiers
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe (Actors)

We Were Soldiers

Randall Wallace directed this 2002 war film. It depicts the first major battle between the U.S. and North Vietnamese forces during the Vietnam War, the Battle of Ia Drang. The movie focuses on Lt. Col. Hal Moore (Mel Gibson), who leads his men into a deadly ambush, and reporter Joe Galloway (Barry Pepper), who bravely documents the event. The film underscores the bravery, sacrifice, and unity of soldiers in combat.

Tigerland
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Matt Davis, Colin Farrell, Matthew Davis (Actors)

Tigerland

Tigerland is a 2000 war drama directed by Joel Schumacher. Set in 1971 during the Vietnam War, it follows American soldiers training at Fort Polk, Louisiana (“Tigerland”), before going to Vietnam. The story centers on Private Roland Bozz (Colin Farrell), a rebellious yet naturally gifted leader. The film explores the human cost of war and internal conflicts within the military.

Flight of the Intruder
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Danny Glover, Willem Dafoe (Actors)

Flight of the Intruder

This action-packed war film was directed by John Milius and released in 1991. The story revolves around a U.S. Navy A-6 Intruder bomber pilot, Jake ‘Cool Hand' Grafton, in the midst of the Vietnam War.

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After his co-pilot is killed during a mission, Grafton and his new partner, Virgil Cole, decide to take matters into their own hands, planning an unauthorized bombing raid against Hanoi's People's Resistance Park. The film, based on a novel by Stephen Coonts, explores the moral complexities and personal toll of war.

The Fog Of War
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Errol Morris, Robert McNamara, Franklin D. Roosevelt (Actors)

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara is a riveting documentary by Errol Morris. This film dives into the life and mind of former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, one of the key architects of the Vietnam War.

The documentary offers an introspective look at McNamara's tenure during the war through 11 lessons drawn from his experiences. It's a must-watch for those interested in understanding the complexities and moral dilemmas of warfare decision-making, providing an insightful perspective on the Vietnam War.

People Also Ask:

How many US soldiers died in Vietnam?

According to the United States Department of Defense, the total number of U.S. military personnel who died during the Vietnam War was 58,220. This figure includes those who were killed in action and those who died from other causes. The casualties were not evenly distributed across all branches of the military.

The Army had the highest number of fatalities, with 38,179, or 66% of all casualties. Meanwhile, although a branch of the U.S. forces, the Marine Corps lost the highest percentage of its personnel.

The number of wounded U.S. soldiers was significantly higher, with estimates suggesting that about 304,000 soldiers sustained injuries during the conflict. These figures underscore the immense toll the Vietnam War took on U.S. military personnel in terms of lives lost and injuries sustained.

The war remains one of the deadliest conflicts in U.S. history, with a casualty rate that continues to resonate decades after its conclusion.

Who was the best soldier in the Vietnam War?

Staff Sergeant Joe Ronnie Hooper, born on August 8th, 1938 in Piedmont, South Carolina, is not only recognized as a Vietnam War hero but also holds the distinction of being the most decorated soldier in American international combat. His accolades surpass even those of York and Murphy, further emphasizing his extraordinary service.

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