“We were conditioned to believe that it was for the good of our country, the good of our nation, that anything we did was okay.”
One question I kept asking myself during this film is “Why did it take so damn long for this to be released?” I just can’t answer that in a nutshell, but it’s embarrassing that this time capsule that reveals what war and the military truly is, has yet to be seen by a majority of Americans. If you’re looking for true accounts of Vietnam, if you’re looking for report on the sheer brutality of the war and on the plight of Vietnamese civilians during this time, you’d really have to look no further than an actual American soldier. The soldiers here talk of their life on the battlefield with a sense of fondness, a fondness that really displays their true mental state as a result of the war they took part in. Their ability to discuss the gruesome stories with a slightly disturbing smile at the opening really only shows how much they’ve adjusted to the atrocities in their own dysfunctional manner.
How do you convince a nation that the war they’re supporting is pointless? How do you do so when the media, which the nation follows, only sensationalizes the war, and discusses only half of the story? How do you fight an administration who denies such first hand accounts? If those questions seem awfully familiar to you, then it only goes to show that no matter how much things change, the more they stay the same. If you want the true story, you need to go nowhere else but to the men who fought in the battles. And what you hear during “Winter Soldier” is not for the squeamish. I dare you not to turn away when you’re watching “Winter Soldier” I dare you because there is no other documentary out right now that bears such a historical parallel than this film. And for you to turn away from this would really only show how utterly clueless you’d be to our history. “Winter Soldier” explores with down to Earth simplicity, the “Winter Soldier Investigation”, a series of media events that discussed and shed light on the sheer cruel practices of torture and murder that occurred during the Vietnam War.
Obviously, this event was never publicized by the mainstream media, apparently the result of a president attempting to shy away from negative press during a time where the American public were kicking themselves for electing him to office. A group of honorably discharged soldiers, sit at a press table in front of an audience, and recollect much of the disgusting and utterly disturbing stories during their services in the Army, and what you’ll hear is utterly appalling, yet when you explore the soldier’s mindsets, you have to wonder if patriotism really is a disease. Here we have a group of men taught that America was always justified, that the soldiers were heroes in spite of murdering, raping, and torturing innocent civilians, with a complacent nation whom never sought out the truth, and an administration who sought out to sidestep the torture in exchange for positive press to induce the war further.
“Winter Soldier” is already a grueling experience, but once you begin to realize how it correlates with our current situation involving Iraq, you’ll find yourself squirming in discomfort and you’ll be tempted to turn if off. But don’t you f*****g dare. “Winter Soldier” is shot in a simple stark gritty black and white that further envelopes it into a shocking reality, and when compared to other political documentaries, there’s simply no one-side about it. This was what the Vietnam War was; this was what we refused to acknowledge, and this is what we are involved with in our current society with our current administration. Whether it was hearing about a man having his skin peeled off, or the soldiers shooting down three year olds out of boredom, I had a truly difficult time sitting through this film, I was even disgusted, but then I kept telling myself that this was reality then, and this is reality now.
It’s been said that those who do not study history, are doomed to repeat it. Well, congratulations, we’re repeating it all over again. Perhaps we’ll be able to hear what’s really happened during our war six years from now. And then maybe we’ll step from out of our bubble and keep this from ever happening again to our children. Maybe in a perfect world. All I can say is that this film has to be seen, it has to be acknowledged, because, to quote one of the soldiers:
Don’t ever let your government do this to you.