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Friday, 8 March, 2002, 17:57 GMT
We Were Soldiers: Your views
Chris Klein as 2nd Lt. Jack Geoghegan
We Were Soldiers treads the familiar ground of Vietnam
We Were Soldiers stars Mel Gibson as Colonel Hal Moore in the first major engagement of the Vietnam war at Ia Drang Valley.

The film is directed by Randall Wallace, who wrote the screenplays for Braveheart and Pearl Harbor. This is his first time behind the camera.

"The message running through We Were Soldiers is too laboured and too sentimental. Above all it is too patriotic," wrote the BBC's Richard Hayden.

But what do you think?

Is this just another vehicle for US patriotism? Or is it a worthy and honest war film?

HAVE YOUR SAY

I agree with Richard Hayden, I thought it was embarrassingly flag-waving with a dreadfully corny script, rendering the whole thing laughable.
Graham King, UK

I saw the film on Saturday and thought that it was very good. Yes it does have all the usual American flag waving (like most films at the moment). But it is also a very good war film, dealing with the first major engagement between the US forces and the NVA. Another good angle is the fact that they have shown the Vietnamese to actually be human, and not some faceless evil enemy, which is a good touch. I think people shouldn't read too much into it.. If you like war films (like me) then you won't go wrong if you see this one.... well recommended!!
Alan Linger, England

I thought it was enticing the whole way through, and ending with a finale that was absorbed in wonderful patriotism and heroism.
Mr. Dunn, Scotland

I walked out of the cinema quite dumbfounded...this has to be possibly one of the most depressing films I have ever seen, bar none. Visually it was good, plot wise...well, it's a war movie about a single battle where a bunch of Americans fought bravely and died, although this film seems to make it a triumphant battle against the odds, unsurprisingly. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone with a single shread of common sense, as one will leave thinking about the futility of war and the depressing nature of mankind's goal to wipe each other out.
Chloe, UK


The overall message is that war is very horrific. It does not glorify war and it is not jingoistic. In fact, I seriously doubt the Pentagon could use the film as a recruiting vehicle, so perhaps that tells your readers something

Paul, USA
I couldn't disagree with Mr Hayden's review of this movie. I went to see this movie with a very sceptical view and came away feeling very different about Mel Gibson and his take on this particular event.

I am an American who believes in his country's basic principles; no, I dont believe we had the right intentions or reason for being involved in Vietnam but that's not the intent of this movie. I believe it is to depict the horror and destruction wrought by any war.

I see this movie as anything but patriotic, which brings to mind another Mel Gibson film, Galipolli. Are we to assume this movie was Australian propaganda against "GB"?

Please Mr Hayden, don't assume all Americans think we're always right, we don't all agree with our government's foreign policy all of the time but some things are beyond an individual's control.

This I think is the point of this movie, to help us understand that real people with real lives die in wars, so their hopes, dreams and futures die too
Travis Hosman, USA

All aspects of the film done very well. It seems patriot themes are a fad now. Too bad. There have always been heros, most unsung through history. To have war done-redone-redone, etc. is greedy for Hollywood, is over-the-top-enough, and a shame on actors anxious to get on that fad bandwagon.
Linda Ray, United States

I think this film tried a little bit too hard to be profound and symbolic. It had some nice visuals but they failed to produce the poignancy or tension of its predecessors such as Platoon or Born on the 4th. It's drawn out build-up was a bore and some important messages about the futility of the Vietnam war were lost in stomach churning patriotic cheesiness. A weak script resulted in a moderately entertaining but "seen it all before" action film. A shame as it had potential to be a meaningful homage to those who so bravely gave up their lives.
Steven Brown, London, UK

I just saw the film with a friend who served in Vietnam at the time of the battle portrayed. He thought it fairly captured the events and horror of that war. In all, it was very powerful. I must disagree that it was too patriotic and I believe Mr. Hayden wasn't paying attention or was simply seeing what he wanted to see.

The overall message is that war is very horrific. It does not glorify war and it is not jingoistic. In fact, I seriously doubt the Pentagon could use the film as a recruiting vehicle, so perhaps that tells your readers something. In the end, the film pointed out that most returning from Vietnam received no heroes welcome, but indifference at best. The men fought more for each other than anything else.

Perhaps Mr. Hayden felt it was patriotic because the film showed the Vietnam War Memorial. Again, misplaced and shows a misunderstanding of what that symbol stands for. War is awful and Vietnam was ultimately pointless - that is the message I received.
Paul, USA


This movie is so typical of a shallow US industry, capitalising the current situation for a quick buck

Raymond, USA
Yet another meaningless amble into trite sentimentality that Gibson seems to excel at. Everyone who has a love of film should act against this type of rubbish. Cinema-goers should sue for the disappearance of Gibson and the Hollywood fraternity that think this type of film has any value beyond showing how soulless and reactionary the American mind is.
Sven Viskar, UK

The BBC can pat themselves on the back with talk of "US imperialism" all they want.... but aside from politics, We Were Soldiers reminds us of the sacrifices that were made during the Vietnam War. I give it two thumbs up.
Adam Sikorski, USA

What is so wrong about a film been patriotic? The main criticism I have of the movie is the poor script. The scenes set at home are unrealistic and the action scenes conform to all the clichés we have come to expect from Hollywood war movies.
Andy Somerville, UK

It was one of Mel's poorer films. There's no denying the men that fought and died were brave beyond words but this film makes it seem so "good" to be able to die for their country that it took most of what the film was trying to get across....one of the poorer war films I've seen.
T4phage, USA

It's quite a break from the norm; it doesn't pander to stereotypes about Vietnam vets. For once, the men serving in combat make it through the film without suffering a complete nervous breakdown.
Elizabeth H, USA

Mr Wallace is a terrible writer. His directing suggests that he probably made a mistake in his choosen field; he should maybe try pantomime to justify some of America's blunders. I only hope he doesn't read any criticism of America annihilating Hiroshima; he is sure to dimly dream up some American heroism in that shameful tragedy.
Dylan, UK

This movie is so typical of a shallow US industry, capitalising the current situation for a quick buck. Shame on Mel Gibson, I guess he needed a quick buck too.
Raymond, USA

What does Richard Hayden expect from a story written by the commanding officer on the field of battle (and consultant to the film) ? All the way through the American high command and politicians are portrayed as being pretty stupid and short sighted.

I think it was a well told story of traditional honour on the battlefield, told by the commanding officer for his forgotten soldiers. You'd have to be pretty naive not to expect a bit of flag waving. 7/10.
James Black, UK

If Richard Hayden bothered to read the book he'd not be so cynical. And indeed, one can argue that amongst certain folks in the entertainment industry they would slam anything that is even remotely pro-Americana as being "too patriotic." It was a good movie, and is a story worth being told, one that thankfully isn't stereotypical of what Hollywood usually churns out in regards to Vietnam; that being it's not a story that'd make "Hanoi-Jane" Fonda proud.
Stephen, USA

Given Mr Gibson's record of historical distortions (Braveheart, The Patriot etc.), I find it risible that anyone would go and see this movie expecting factual accuracy. If you want a history lesson try U571!
Michael, UK

I thought the film was an unusual one. For once we are spared the "Vietnam Soldier Syndrome," which depicts US service personnel as nothing more than dope smoking, village burning, fratricidal crazed killers. It was refreshing to see men of honour fighting to stay alive. Some of the injuries shown were horrific. Having been in the Gulf War and seen many Iraqi corpses, I can testify that death is never pretty or glorious and this film, along with Saving Private Ryan just serves to show what a horrendous waste of life war really is.
Phil, UK

I believe many of the commentators here need to look past their bias against the US and see the point behind the movie. War is pure, unmitigated hell. I walked out of that movie and wondered how in the world anyone could ever want to fight in a war. I thank God I wasn't subjected to that hell. Too patriotic? Poor script? I don't know what you people were watching, but I got the message.
Mike, Houston, Tx USA

As the son of one of the veterans of the Ia Drang valley battle I am disgusted by the view peole seem to be taking in general on your board. This was not a pro-war movie or even a pro-America movie but it was a movie about soldiers. About the real life price they pay when countries go to war. About the love and dedication that these men felt for each other and even about respect of and understanding of the enemy.

I find myself so frustrated with the failure of people to "get it." Randall didn't write the gushy stuff like "Tell my wife I love her" or "Daddy, what is war?" These were real life people and real life situations that we went through and the hell that our families suffered. Most of the "writing" that people don't like is actual quotes and I am furious with reviewers and other idiots who would dare to damage the memory of these people to their families.
Michael D. Crandall (III Son of Snake), USA

Too old style, John Wayne. America had no place in that war and this film just proved it!
Adam French, Britain

One of the corniest movies I have ever seen - poor Mel Gibson must have shuddered when they asked him to mouth the inane speech he gives to the troops before they ship out. And the family scenes were ridiculous - "99 bottles of beer on the wall"? Please, couldn't one of the kids have slugged his sister for the sake of reality? Lousy acting by the women who play the wives. Rarely have I seen such an obvious and disingenuous treatment of real events.
Dan, USA

It seems to me that this was re-edited with extra flags.
James Reilly, Ireland

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See also:

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