Extreme Patriotism vs. Extreme Prejudice
A discussion of conflicting views of Vietnam in the movies, “The Green Berets” and “Apocalypse Now”.
Through an analysis of the movies “The Green Berets” and “Apocalypse Now” and by comparing the two, this essay shows the vast changes in American attitudes and perspectives concerning the Vietnam War that occurred between the two movies’ productions. The essay compares the two films’ intent, the American public’s reaction following the movies’ releases and the films’ portrayal of the Vietnam War. By comparing and contrasting these two films, the essay examines the disillusionment of the general American public in both its government and its military and traces the emergence of a new generation’s values and beliefs.
“‘Silver wings upon their chest, these are men, America’s best…men who mean just what they say, the brave men of the Green Beret’ (Ballad of the Green Berets). In 1968, the hearts and minds of American moviegoers were stirred to a level of extreme patriotism by these popular song lyrics, used in both the opening and closing credits of the John Wayne film The Green Berets. These lyrics, in which the main soldier died for those oppressed were the perfect compliment to a film designed to arouse national patriotism and support for a currently raging Southeast Asian conflict depicted within the story, a conflict known as the Vietnam War (Ballad of the Green Berets). The lyrics of this popular song, along with the contents of this popular film, were meant to depict the life of the American soldier who gives all in the name of country and the fight against oppression and the spread of communism. The intent of this patriotic film ultimately hit its mark, a fact exemplified by the scores of young U.S. males who flocked to enlist in the American armed forces following its release.”