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Sir! No Sir! - Director's Edition
Sir! No Sir! tells the long suppressed story of the GI movement to end the war in Vietnam. This is the story of one of the most vibrant and widespread upheavals of the 1960's- one that had a profound impact on American society yet has been virtually obliterated from the collective memory of that time.
||Louis Font, Michael Wong (IX), Joe Bangert, Dave Blalock, Howard Levy (II)|
||Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC|
|Number of Discs:
|DVD Release Date:
||December 19, 2006|
|Average Customer Rating:
|| based on 33 reviews|
Average Customer Review:
( 33 customer reviews )
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43 of 46 found the following review helpful:
An angle we're not familiar withSep 23, 2006
By Timothy P. Scanlon
We all--even those too young to have participated in it--recall the demonstrations that took place during the Vietnam war. Some of them had upwards of a million people at them. They represent what most of us remember as "the 60s."
But a movement of which we don't hear much is the movement within the services of men--mostly men as women didn't serve too many combat roles in those day--who opposed the war.
As informed as I claim to be, I knew little of this movement until I saw this fine film.
There were "underground" newspapers at the bases. Of course, law enforcement did its best to stop that. In one case, a troop was accused of having some marijuana in his car and was arrested thereby stopping his newspaper.
The army in that era tried to make themselves look like the "new army," just a bunch of wonderful guys preparing for a career and getting job training. (Their slogan at the time was FTA for "Fun, Travel and Adventure. The movements changed those words, and Jane Fonda and her fellow showpeople eased THOSE words a little to make them. "free the army.) But the Marines continued to "build men." But even the Marines had movements to end the war.
I liked the interviews with Fonda. The military did their best to keep the Fonda show off the road, but they had an audience, even among Marines! They loved it!
There's some great material in here. There's interviews with guys now in their 60s, and the things they did, the way they came around. Just lots of information of which I was unaware before. Great stuff.
But for the last portion of the film, the story concludes that the history has been rewritten. Not only do you not hear of these movements. But from clips in the films from "Rambo" and "Hamburger Hill" (the former of which I never saw and the latter I've never been able to figure out!), the public got the impression that there were demonstrators waiting for the returning troops at the airport when they returned from Vietman just waiting to spit on them.
First, I was a demonstrator for years and I never saw anything like that. I've talked with countless Vietnam vets, even Marines, to whom nothing of the kind ever happened. And veterans in the film not only state that they never witnessed anything like that, but the stories didn't jibe with reality. Like they didn't fly into airports but into air bases. So it couldn't have happened.
Well, that rewritten history portion of the film is important in these days of public relations fiascoes in which history is constantly rewritten.
I strongly recommend this fine documentary. If your interest is in the 60s especially the Vietman era, you'll see things of which you knew little before. It'll also give you a perspective on some of what seems to be taking place in today's military.
26 of 28 found the following review helpful:
bravery at its bestJan 25, 2007
By Daniel B. Clendenin
Talk about brave soldiers. This documentary film tells the stories of the thousands of active duty GIs and retired veterans, both at home and in Vietnam, who agitated to end the war in Southeast Asia. Their means were many-- a network of coffee houses, a full-page ad in the NY Times signed by 1400 active duty soldiers, 300 underground newspapers, sits-ins, public marches, pirate radio, petitions, refusal to go on patrols, and even "fragging" (killing their superior officers with fragment grenades). Many of these people of conscience spent considerable time in prison. The original film footage of the Vietnam war and personal interviews with veterans who explain why they did what they did are deeply moving. These firsthand witnesses knew the truth of war-- the degradation, propaganda, government lies, cynicism, torture, and how war might turn some boys into men but it turns far more people into animals. I watched this film with a deep sense of gratitude. Popular history makes fun of Jane Fonda but consider this--in this film you'll see that her audiences included not just leftie hippies but 60,000 active duty soldiers who agreed with her. According to this film the Pentagon documented 503,926 "incidents of desertion." After watching this film read the book by Chris Hedges, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.
15 of 16 found the following review helpful:
Incitement to mutinySep 25, 2007
By D. Hartley
There have been a good number of excellent documentaries examining various aspects of the Sixties protest movement ("The War At Home","Berkeley In The Sixties" and "The Weather Underground" but none focusing specifically on the members of the armed forces who openly opposed the Vietnam war-until now. "Sir! No Sir!" is a fascinating look at the GI anti-war movement during the era. Director David Zeigler combines present-day interviews with archival footage to good effect in this well-paced documentary.
Most people who have seen Oliver Stone's "Born On The Fourth Of July" were likely left with the impression that paralyzed Vietnam vet and activist Ron Kovic was the main impetus and focus of the GI movement, but Kovic's story was in fact only one of thousands (Kovic, interestingly, is never mentioned in Ziegler's film). While the aforementioned Kovic received a certain amount of media attention at the time, the full extent and history of the involvement by military personnel has been suppressed from public knowledge for a number of years, and that is the focus of "Sir! No Sir".
In one very astutely chosen archival clip, a CBS news anchor somberly announces that there appears to be some problems with "troop morale" in Vietnam (while in the meantime, behind closed doors, the US military was apparently imprisoning dissenting GIs left and right under "incitement to mutiny" charges, sometimes just for being overheard expressing anti-war sentiments). All the present-day interviewees (Army, Air Force,Navy and Marine vets) have interesting (and at times emotionally wrenching)stories to share. Jane Fonda speaks candidly about her infamous "FTA" ("F--- The Army") shows that she organized for troops as an antidote to the somewhat creaky and more traditional Bob Hope USO tours. Well worth your time. The film would make an excellent double bill with the clasic documentary "Hearts And Minds".
13 of 15 found the following review helpful:
The Anti-War Movement that History Mysteriously Forgot.Feb 23, 2007
In "Sir! No Sir!", director David Zeiger revives a perspective on the Vietnam War that was seemingly forgotten, or perhaps even deliberately squelched, since the 1970s: that of the anti-war movement within the U.S. military. Zeiger was among the civilian staff at "The Oleo Strut", an anti-war G.I. coffeehouse in Killeen, Texas, during the Vietnam War, so he is personally familiar with the movement. Through archival news footage and interviews with about 2 dozen former servicemen and officers who actively opposed the war in Vietnam, as well as some of their civilian supporters, "Sir! No Sir!" tells the story of the anti-war movement within the U.S. armed forces from 1966 to 1975, when American military involvement in Vietnam ceased.
David Zeiger's purpose in "Sir! No Sir!" is not only to remind people that the Vietnam War was very unpopular even with many of those who fought it, but to make the point that being anti-war is not anti-soldier and never has been. According to the Pentagon, there were a half a million "incidents of desertion" during the Vietnam War. There were nearly 300 anti-war G.I. underground newspapers. In Vietnam, there were a disturbing number of mutinies and violent attacks on officers -so many that they may have played a part in the shift to an air war. In the U.S., there were anti-war G.I. coffeehouses, sit-ins, boycotts, and stockades full of servicemen who refused their orders to Vietnam or had attended protests.
The public knew that there was significant dissent within the military. It was all over newspapers and television news programs at the time. And people knew that anti-war protesters sympathized with the soldiers, wanting nothing more than to bring the troops home safely. Yet at some point, rumors began to abound that anti-war activists had scorned returning soldiers and treated them badly. "Sir! No Sir!" points out that this view of the anti-war movement originated in the 1980s and claims that the stories of mistreatment of returning soldiers by anti-war protesters have no basis. It further asserts that this erroneous image of anti-war activists may have been deliberately promulgated in popular entertainment for the purpose of discrediting past and future anti-war protesters.
That may sound far-fetched on the face of it, but I remember when the idea that the anti-war movement had turned against Vietnam vets emerged in the 1980s, so this comment on the issue got my attention. The fact is that the rhetoric and actions of anti-war protesters of the Vietnam era were well-documented and widely disseminated at the time. So how did the popular conception of the anti-war movement become so separated from the facts? "Sir! No Sir!" leaves us with that provocative question.
The DVD (Docurama 2006): There is a huge amount of supplementary material on this DVD, mostly additional interview footage with people who were featured in the film. I found these particularly interesting because they presented info not in the film: "Joe Urgo: Behind the Winter Soldier Investigation" (7 min), "Michael Wong: In Vietnam, We Were Doing what the Japanese did to the Chinese in WWII" (3 min), "Pioneer Private Radio DJ Dave Rabbit Speaks" (8 min). For interviews about the stockades: "The American Serviceman's Union and Fort Dix Stockade Rebellion" (12 min), "Randy Rowland: Life in the Presidio Stockade" (7 min), "Keith Mather's Escape" (3 min), "The 9 for Peace" (1 min), "Keith's Scrapbook from 9 for Peace to Presidio Stockade" (7 min). About the black G.I. experience: "Carl Dix: From Protest to Federal Prison to Revolution" (12 min), "Elder Halim Gullahbemi: Learning from the Vietnamese" (5 min). "Jeff Sharlet and Vietnam G.I." (4 min) is about the first underground G.I. newspaper. "Only the Beginning -Vietnam Vets Return Their Medals" (4 min) is footage from the 1971 Dewey Canyon III demonstration in Washington, D.C.. "Newsreel: Summer of '68 -The Oleo Strut" (7 min) is old footage not in the movie. "Director David Zeiger and Sgt. Giacomozzi at The Oleo Strut" (6 min) reunites 2 people in 2005 who were on opposite sides of the law in 1970. "Rita Mortinson's 'Soldier, We Love You'" (4 min) is footage of her performing a song she wrote for a soldier. In the present day: "The Court Martial of Camilo Mejia: Iraq War Resister" (2 min), "Cindy Sheehan and Jane Fonda on 'Sir! No Sir!'" (12 min) shows the 2 women speaking at a fundraiser for this film. And there is a mini biography for director David Zeiger (text).
7 of 8 found the following review helpful:
A story retreived from the dustbin of historyMay 02, 2007
By R. Goff
This documentary is a necessary corrective to the widely held perception that the Vietnam anti-war movement was anti-soldier. In fact, a key component of the anti-war movement was the soldiers. As early as 1965, highly decorated "lifers", who joined the armed services convinced they were doing their duty to their country, began speaking out against the war, refusing orders, and faced court-martials to stop the war in Vietnam. As one former Green Beret said, "I was doing my job right, but I wasn't doing right." By 1969 war resistance among GIs, which had started as individual acts of defiance spread among draftees "in country" and among vets returning home, and emerged as a crucial component of the anti-war movement. So much so that even the US military had to concede that the majority of US troops were anti-war.
Sir, No, Sir is a very well done documentary that weaves together interviews, news footage, and commentary about the "forgotten" anti-war movement--the GI coffee house movement, the underground GI press, and the "alternative" USO-style shows that featured an anti-war message that was tailored to the soldiers' expereince. It closes with some parting shots on how the GI anti-war movement was "erased" from popular memory through films like Hamburger Hill and Rambo--which situate the anti-war movement as being anti-soldier.
The extras on the DVD are also quite interesting. Of particular interest is the interview with the infamous "Dave Rabbitt." Years ago, I received a copy of a recording of a "pirate" radio station in Vietnam and had often wondered about its authenticity. This film confirmed that briefly an unofficial radio station (Radio First Termer-FM69), which was "for the troops" but against the war, operated in the Phan Rang area of Vietnam. It broadcast "hard acid-rock music" for the "first-termers and non-reenlistees" in Vietnam. An interesting story in and of itself, and just one part of the forgotten anti-war movement.
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