Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
This fine film should be better known
on 21 September 2011
Most critics did not like Heaven & Earth when first released, but that is their loss. I recomend this film even to people who do not usually like films about war or do not otherwise like Oliver Stone's films, as well as those who do.
Because the centre of the world film industry and its biggest market are both in the USA, films about the Vietnam War tend to give American points of view, whether pro or anti the US role. That is not necessarily 'racism', just business, given how much it costs to make a major film. Heaven & Earth is therefore unusual and interesting for giving the (to us) less familiar experience of a young Vietnamese woman in the 1960s and 1970s who grows up in a village, moves to a city and ultimately escapes to the USA by marrying an American soldier, in time of a partly civil war in which neither side was really in the right. The herione sometimes personally endures and sometimes witnesses the sufferings of those on both sides, and those caught between both sides, the ruthless and doctrinaire Vietnamese Communists who ultimately won, and the often corrupt and cruel Vietnamese anti-communists and their American backers and Allies.
The acting is overall perfectly good rather than Oscar material, but the way the film tells its remarkable story, bringing in many characters and incidents and showing us something of both Vietnamese and Ameican society, makes it fascinating and moving.
The film is based on the autobiographical books of Lee Ly Hayslip, who was born in Vietnam and now lives in the USA. See especially her excellent book 'When Heaven and Earh Changed Places'. In adapting her story for the screen the director Oliver Stone and his team take permissible liberties with the facts e.g. combining the stories of Lee Ly Hayslip's two successive American husbands into one, but the film treats the spirit of the story respectfully and overall gets it right.
There are a limited number of DVD extras including deleted scenes with director commentary (there is no commentary for the film itself) which are also interesting.