The Vietnam syndrome that President Bush assures us has been ”kicked for good” is amply represented in this antiwar tract, winner of the 1974 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature and now back in video release after being out of print for several years. Coproduced by noted Hollywood cage-rattler Bert Schneider (Five Easy Pieces) and directed by Peter Davis, Hearts and Minds is a rapid-fire, no-narration retrospective of the images (burning villages, lying presidents, offensive Tet) that compelled Americans to question the government’s Vietnam policy. The title is ironic: President Johnson’s stated objective was to win ”the hearts and minds” of the Vietnamese people.
Hearts and Minds also contains examples of the vindictive self-righteousness that has since brought criticism of the antiwar movement: blanket depiction of veterans as insensitive baby-killers, the equation of militarism with everything politically objectionable in society (incredibly, including high school football), intolerance of opposing views, etc. For better and worse, Hearts and Minds is an exceptional pointillist snapshot of an epochal period in American culture. A