The award winning documentary, Hearts and Minds, portrays the attitudes of the opposing sides in the Vietnam War. Using actual footage and interviews, Hearts and Minds makes the viewer question why America was involved in the war at all. Throughout the film, you see various conversations with both American and Vietnamese leaders and civilians. They highlight the radical difference in opinion they had on the war. The central argument during this film remains on the topic of why the war even began and if it was right to involve the U.S forces. Other themes include anti-war, communism, and inhumanity. Hearts and Minds exposes the ethnocentricity that American leaders and soldiers had towards the Vietnamese.
The Criterion Collection Janus Films presents Hearts and Minds. Before any image appears on the screen, you hear the sound of carriage bells off in the distance. The scene fades in to a horse drawn cart in the third world country of Vietnam. Authentic Vietnamese music plays in the background as the Hung Dinh village comes into view. The scene changes to young children frolicking outside, where hardworking women fill the fields as soldiers begin to file through.
"So we must be ready to fight in Vietnam, but the ultimate victory will depend upon the hearts and the minds of the people who actually live out there." This is an excerpt from President Johnson's speech that he delivered during the midst of U.S involvement in the Vietnam War. He was one of the many people to speak in the film. They believed that America's role was to be the one who stepped in and put an end to communism. "We were the one great power," said Clark Clifford, who was the aide to President Truman, "they could not touch us with power." Following his interview, the film presents a clip of music that states, "We are just beginning and we won't stop winning, till the world is free." Here, it is emphasized that our nation was power hungry to end all fighting after emerging victorious in World War II.