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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Political > Vietnam > Brothers In Arms (Documentary/'03-4)

Brothers In Arms (Documentary)


Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: C     Film: B-



All the way to the 2004 election comes more attack ads and documentaries.  In the pro-John Kerry camp, many of the documentaries going after George Bush have been that way by default, but Paul Alexander’s Brothers In Arms (2004) features interviews and footage that show how Kerry did serve in Vietnam and why he earned his medals of honor for bravery.


Until the 2004 Election, only the Rollbacking Neo-Conservative revisionists were in a corner pretending Kerry did not do anything good in Vietnam as if he had not been there.  Part of this is that Kerry’s story is the story of thousands of loyal soldiers who managed not to get killed came back to the United States and realized what a lie the Vietnam conflict was.  We saw this so well portrayed by Tom Cruise in a breakthrough role in Oliver Stone’s Born On The Fourth Of July (1989) that this story should not be such a surprise by now.


At only 68 minutes, though it sets the record straight inarguably, it still has the stilted feel of a political propaganda film.  Being so short and completed so recently does not help, but the some lighting and same camera angles in the interviews (especially at this aspect ratio) feel recycled.  I wish there had been more content and more creative camera work, but it still shows that this is a man who absolutely served his country correctly and is lucky to be alive to tell the tale.   We still cannot say that about his opponent.


The full frame image is a mix of film and video from then and now, with some footage looking better than others, typical of documentary filmmaking.  It looks good with that considered, though it feels a bit odd and even old to have a 1.33 X 1 image, but it does retain the authenticity of the footage and credibility is important here.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has some Pro Logic surrounds, but some of the audio is obviously monophonic.  This plays back just fine otherwise.  Extras include a text director’s statement, biographies on the participants, a stills section and trailers for other First Run DVDs.


Of course, even this will not be good enough for many.  The lie is amazingly being perpetrated more than ever that Vietnam was some legitimate involvement that “fought Communism in the name of God” and that ugly, deadly, blind faith myth is being furthered to serve the propaganda being perpetrated for the Middle East affairs that are being badly mishandled.  The deeper truth, of course, is much uglier and plays like a second run of Vietnam, no matter who gets killed unnecessarily.  As Senator, President, or citizen, Kerry can only be a success if he does not abandon these truths and roots.  If not, he fails and time will quickly vindicate that statement.  If the events of 35 years ago must be remembered, they must be done uncompromisingly so.  In that respect, Brothers In Arms may not go far enough, but it is a good start.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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