Last Days in Vietnam

After all these years, you wouldn’t think there was anything left unsaid about the American debacle in Vietnam. Yet by focusing sharply on the fall of Saigon and the U.S. military’s chaotic exit in April 1975, documentary maker Rory Kennedy (Ghosts of Abu Ghraib) manages to cast new light on the entire war, even as she comments indirectly on our current overseas entanglements. Kennedy exposes the folly of U.S. ambassador Graham Martin, who steadfastly resisted all talk of evacuation until it was almost too late and whose intransigence resulted in some 420 friendly South Vietnamese being left to the mercy of the invading North Vietnamese. In the end, however, the bigger culprits might have been the American people, whose frustration with the war prevented President Ford from getting a $722 million emergency relief bill through Congress. Kennedy includes numerous tales of personal valor as U.S. soldiers defied orders to rescue their Vietnamese allies; this is both a gripping suspense story and a profound moral drama.