Oscar contender Last Days in Vietnam certainly has what it takes to win.

by Martin Hafer

Last Days in Vietnam is about the fall of South Vietnam for the North’s forces in the Spring of 1975. And, because it’s an American Experience film, it’s told from the viewpoint of Americans as well as some of their South Vietnamese allies. However, this does not mean it will not be interesting to everyone. The story is compelling and you really don’t need to be an American or Vietnamese in order to appreciate the story. It’s an interesting topic as folk today really don’t talk about this period in history. When I was teaching American history, our curriculum rarely talked about the South falling to the Communist forces in the North.

Last Days in Vietnam
Directed by
Rory Kennedy
Written by
Mark Bailey & Keven McAlester
Release Date
Martin’s Grade: A

Like a typical American Experience film it’s told through lots of interviews as well as stock footage and computer models. It does not have narration, and I actually enjoyed this because instead of talking about what occurred, it lets people who were there explain it in their own words. And, like a typical show in the series, it’s exceptionally well made and very interesting.

It’s clearly a very well made film. However, I would say that it’s not necessarily better than any of the other shows in the series, as they are almost always brilliantly made.
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Last Days in Vietnam was financed by PBS and is part of their American Experience series. These films are shown on television, so they are not usually eligible for Oscar consideration, though they have received numerous awards such as the Emmy, due to their exceptional quality. Apparently, a few American Experience films have been shown in theaters (most likely as part of a film festival) and that is why some have been eligible for the Academy Award. In fact, this is the fourth American Experience film to be nominated for the Oscar.

So should this win the Oscar? Probably not, as I still prefer Virunga–and recommend you see it as well as Last Days in Vietnam. I should also note that I have not yet seen two of the nominees, CitzenFour and Salt of the Earth. Hopefully I’ll get to these before the awards are nominated and I’ll update you on my recommendations.

If you want to watch Last Days in Vietnam online for free, it will be available for a short time here.