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Based on Daniel Ford's novel "Incident at Muc Wa," the strength of this film is Wendell Mayes" brilliant script, which was nominated for a SAG Award. The film features one of Burt Lancaster's best performances as Major Asa Barker, a military adviser who knows in 1964 there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Lancaster heads a group of American military advisors in the time before Johnson made the massive commitment of troops to the war, who see the parallels between what is about to happen and the downfall of the French a decade earlier, and who know there is nothing they can do to stop their country from making a terrible mistake.
Obviously our reading of this film is colored by what we already knew in 1978 and what we take for granted now: the Vietnam War was a fiasco of epic proportions. Craig Wasson has the other main role as Corporal Courcey while other recognizable members in the cast are Marc Singer as Captain Olivetti, David Clennon as Lt. Finley Wattsberg, Dolph Sweet as General Harnitz and Clyde Kusatsu as Colonel Minh. Oh, and I have to make special mention of Dennis Howard, who plays Corporal Abraham Lincoln.
Ultimately, "Go Tell The Spartans" does not portray what it was like for grunts during the Vietnam War--you can watch "Platoon" or even "Forrest Gump" to get a much better idea of that experience than you will here--but this film does deal with the greater tragedy of the war than any other film I have seen, even if it takes place before we really got involved waist deep in the Big Muddy.
A comprehensive deconstruction of the causes of the Vietnam War and the USA's involvement in it is more the province of serious academic study and Government-commissioned report-writing. And there have been many, very many of these since 1975. But perhaps a few key points might suffice to the casual reader and viewer of Vietnam War films.
First and foremost, the Republic of South-Vietnam was never a unified country, as the West would define 'a unified country.' As with most post-colonial nations, their national boundaries were an administrative technicality imposed on the region(s) by the former colonial powers, in Vietnam's case France. Ethnic divisions were uniform.Read more ›