The 5 Best Vietnam War Documentaries

The Vietnam War has proven to be one of the most controversial wars in American history, opinion has long been split among citizens in regards to whether it is was a justified war, while others were ashamed or embarrassed by the USA’s lack of success. The treatment of Vietnam war veterans has also come under the radar in recent years, with huge numbers of the committing suicide or developing drink or drug addictions.

There have been dozens of great movies and documentaries based on the Vietnam War, the five below are among the best documentaries on the subject. All of these documentaries can be watched right here on!


1. Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam (1987)

There have been dozens of awesome feature films and movies made about Vietnam, so many in fact that it would take something really special to get any sort of recognition. Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam won two emmy awards and was a Sundance winner, it managed that because it had such a unique concept.

The film features numerous letters sent home to America from servicemen in Vietnam, many of who didn’t make it home. It probably helped that the documentary was inspired by a bestselling book of the same name, within that book many of the letters featured can be read in full. A very powerful documentary which still sells well on DVD to this day.


2. Vietnam: An American Holocaust (2008)

When does a ‘war’ become a ‘holocaust’? This highly-critical documentary narrated by Martin Sheen discusses whether the Vietnam War was merely nothing but a holocaust carried out by Americans, it is supported by first person interviews with Vietnam War Veterans, Vietnamese citizens who witnessed the carnage and lived to tell the tale, as well as various political and media figures from the period.

Some five million people lost their lives in the Vietnam War, mostly killed by incendiary bombs, the majority of the American soldiers doing the killing being forced to subscribe to the campaign of indiscriminate killing. The documentary presents a very strong argument for the Vietnam War being nothing but sustained slaughter of mostly innocent people.


3. In The Year of the Pig (1968)

In The Year of the Pig was, at the time of release at the height of the Vietnam War, an extremely controversial documentary. It was highly anti-war, presented disturbing images and accounts of American activities in Vietnam, and was received with some hostility among right wing groups; some cinemas even had bomb threats to stop them from screening the film.

Despite attempts to suppress the film it still got screened nationwide and was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary. It remains the most historically important film about the Vietnam War, particularly as it was released during a period where anti-war sentiments were growing in America. The film was perceived as anti-American, which it was of course; it will be considered of great historical importance long after we have departed this earth.


4. Hearts and Minds (1974)

Another hugely controversial film followed in 1974, to the degree that Columbia Films refused to distribute it and the producers of the documentary had to purchase back the rights to the film before it could be shown. It ended up winning an Academy Award in 1975.

Hearts and Minds included the famous image of a nine year old girl running away from a napalm attack, an image which President Nixon wrongly dismissed as propaganda. The film was well recieved by anti-war activists but met with anger from pro-war Americans. It is a film which will go down in history as one of the most important Vietnam War films ever made.


5. Battle of Long Tan (2006)

The Battle of Long Tan was a major strategic victory for allied forces in Vietnam, but this wasn’t your usual battle success; it was a battle won by the Australians! The battle occurred after an Australian regiment met a Vietnamese regiment in a rubber plantation just outside of the village of Long Tan.

The battle has been used as an example of strategic excellence ever since, and it remains of cultural and historic significance to Australians who celebrate Vietnam Veterans Remembrance day on the anniversary of the first day of the battle of Long Tan (18th August). This documentary is a televised account of that battle.

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