War is a terrible thing and people fearing for their lives is awful. Last Days in Vietnam captured the feelings of the South Vietnamese during this time period and transmitted their feelings to me via this movie. Their faces were the heart of the story. Fear and desperation were clearly visible. Families with children were the most vivid. Imagining what it felt like to be in their shoes as they feared for the lives of their children was a horrible thought.
There is a ton of value in these types of films. Having the chance to feel what it is like to see through someone else’s eyes is perspective altering and can change human behavior. There are huge costs to war and violence and the perspective of the powerless is very powerful. I really enjoyed the film. It was obvious that many Americans directly involved in the situation really cared and did what they could to help those that were most vulnerable, even though their options were limited. As a viewer, I wanted to help them too, so it felt good to rally behind those that were trying to do what I felt was the right.
The storyline of betrayal and broken promises by the US government was also a compelling storyline and relates well to current politics. Many didn’t want troops in Vietnam, regardless of what happened to the South Vietnamese, just as many don’t want US troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, regardless of what happens to our allies that rely on our protection and support. It’s a tricky situation. Once involved in the war, how do you get out and not leave people hanging? Last Days in Vietnam made it clear that the US left the South Vietnamese hanging.
The movie also makes me think about the current crisis with migrants from Syria, Africa, and other impoverished and war torn areas. The risks that people are willing to take to get out of their current situations are mind blowing. It is hard to imagine how terrible their situations must be that they’re willing to risk so much for such an uncertain outcome. One, I’m fortunate that I’ve never had to experience this. Two, there needs to be something done on my part (and others) to improve the lives of these people. It’s easy to see the problems as simply problems; it’s way more powerful when I see faces and imagine myself in their shoes.
Nominated for an Academy Award (2015) for Best Documentary Feature.