Hearts and Minds

Hearts and Minds

1974, Military and War  -   49 Comments
Ratings: 7.70/10 from 43 users.

Hearts and MindsThe Oriental doesn't put the same high price on life as does the Westerner. Life is cheap in the Orient. Hearts and Minds is an Academy Award winning documentary about the Vietnam War directed by Peter Davis. The film's title is based on a quote from President Lyndon B. Johnson: "the ultimate victory will depend on the hearts and minds of the people who actually live out there". The movie was chosen as Best Feature Documentary at the 47th Academy Awards presented in 1975.

The film premiered at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival. Commercial distribution was delayed in the United States due to legal issues, including a temporary restraining order obtained by one of the interviewees, former National Security Advisor Walt Rostow who had claimed through his attorney that the film was "somewhat misleading" and "not representative" and that he had not been given the opportunity to approve the results of his interview.

After Columbia Pictures refused to distribute the picture, Bert Schneider and Henry Jaglom purchased back the rights and released the film in March 1975 through Warner Bros.

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49 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Jimbo

    Pretty good Doc. As always we have hindsight Historians born 30 years after the War ended making silly comments. Its easy to judge. Society is so Liberal its sickening and people lack the imagination to put themselves into the Grunts shoes. They're War was in front of their faces and it was about survival. Not politics. Kill or be Killed.

  2. yvette

    The introduction is poorly written. Quotation marks should have been placed around that opening statement and clearly attributed to Westmoreland who, with this statement, showed his stupidity, arrogance and bestial barbarism that led to the mass murder of millions of people that included children, babies and women (genocide). This war is a thick blood stain on the conscience of America that can never be washed away.

  3. Thomas Hancock

    A great documentary. For newcomers to Vietnam War history, the multi-part "Vietnam: the 10,000 Day War" is better. Because, like all documentaries, this one has a viewpoint. The series I mentioned is more straightforward. The ending of the movie, where the former pilot (I believe, he may have had a different rank) says that "America is trying not to learn," is telling. This is still the case. Americans learned little from the Vietnam War. This was by design. President Ford told Americans in speeches to forget about the war (and about Watergate). This persistent learning disability of Americans in the name of "new beginnings" has of my writing (June 2018) brought the U.S. empire to its knees, just like those that have fallen before it.

  4. George Kirkman

    Sadly the last chapter of the Vietnam War is missing. When South Vietnam stood along for almost a year and a half. Saigon only fell when when the Democrats, led by Ted Kennedy, cut the funding off and the ARVIN was left with nothing to fight with. The Democrats would rather see millions fall under the rule of Communism than to see Nixon win the Kennedy /Johnson War.

    The final betrayal of the South Vietnamese was, "The peace accords in 1973 called a ceasefire and put in place provisions for the protection of the freedom of South Vietnam. Additionally it provided that if the North violated any of these agreements, U.S. troops would return to the aid of the South Vietnamese. " which we didn't.

    1. Jimbo

      ARVN. 58,000 dead sure doesn't look like a betrayal to me. The S. Vietnamese Government was about as corrupt as Gov't's get. The ARVN wouldn't fight. General Võ Nguyên Giáp even commented about the arms and funds The U.S. handed over to the South when they pulled out. Giap said if the NVA was given that kind of support, they could have fought on for the next 100 years. The South was doomed no matter what. The U.S. had advisors in country up to the very last minute.. when the last chopper took off from the embassy roof. Literally to the very very end.

  5. Youth of the 60s

    Indivuduals interested in this documentry might also find the 1965 CBC documentary "Mills of the Gods" produced by Beryl Fox, useful to review.
    It was one of the first to shed light from the outside on the situation in Viet Nam and caused a great deal of opposition to the CBC for airing it on the program "This Hour Has Seven Days" .... some argue that it contributed greatly to the cancellation of that program.
    Many US citizens living near the Canadian border were able, for the first time, to witness the realities of what was happening in Viet Nam....much to the chargrin of some US politicians!

  6. wagonjak

    I don't know why you lead with that quote from General Westmorland...."The Oriental doesn't put the same high price on life as does the Westerner. Life is cheap in the Orient" I'm sure every family feels the death of a loved one just as deeply as anyone in the west.

  7. Travis

    There is a portion of this missing. In one point, there is an interview with a woman who was a prostitute but came to the US and how the Americans were taking advantage of her, etc... I wish this hadn't been cut out because I thought it was an interesting and valuable aspect of the effects of the death of ARVN soldiers.

  8. jacobella

    Mr. Davis - Did you lose a Son or Daughter in Vietnam??? I didn't think so.

    I am glad that today, when men & women return from combat, we can greet them at the airport and say "welcome home"...

  9. Eduardo Cohen

    PS: Hearts and Minds is possibly the finest and most revealing American film about the Vietnam War. Anyone who wishes to have a realistic understanding of that war should see this film. It should be required viewing in High School history classes.

    The incredible racism represented in General Westmoreland's now infamous comment - these 'Orientals' don't place the same value on human life that we do (paraphrasing: see the exact quote in the film) - was reflected in the ranks of those US troops serving in Vietnam. US soldiers routinely used terms like "gook", "dink", "slant" and "slope" -- racist and dehumanizing language to be sure -- to refer to the Vietnamese people we were supposedly there to "defend".

    Ironically, at the exact moment that "Westy" spoke those words to a group of US reporters, somewhere over Vietnam a formation of five to ten B-52 bombers were dropping over 100 500 pound bombs per plane (that's a total of from 500 to 1000 500 pound bombs - or 125 to 250 tons of high explosive bombs) on villages and hamlets where Vietnamese people were living. It was called "carpet bombing".

    Actual maximum bomb payloads on the specially modified B-52Ds (Big Bellies) was 60,000 pounds of bombs per plane. One of those 500 or 750 pound bombs going off in a populated area in the US would be considered a national tragedy.

    We ultimately dropped more bombs on that poor country than all of the bombs dropped in World War 2.

    Eduardo Cohen
    1st 503rd Infantry
    173rd Airborne Brigade (unattached)
    US Army, Bien Hoa, Vietnam

  10. Eduardo Cohen

    John Mitchell could not have possibly seen what he said he did. If the Viet Cong (VC) and North Vietnamese Army forces (NVA) did carry out the atrocities he described, Mitchell would certainly not have been present when they occurred and couldn't have witnessed atrocities committed by the VC in village after village.

    Some people just never get it. We may have been TOLD the VC terrorized people into supporting them but that is what they would have to tell the OCCUPYING ARMY that was killing MILLIONS of Vietnamese. Otherwise they might be handed over to the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) to be tortured or be taken on their first and last helicopter ride.

    The VC WERE the people in the villages. The VC and the NVA had the support of almost everyone in Vietnam outside Saigon. How else could they have repelled the most powerful army in the world?

    We killed somewhere between three and five million Vietnamese, not including the people we killed in Laos and Cambodia. People who never even wished to harm the United States and had almost no capability to do so if they did.

    Outside the US, the Vietnam War (called 'the American War in South East Asia' in most of the world since we attacked two other nations as well) is considered to be one of the greatest war crimes of the 20th century, right up there with the millions killed in Nazi death camps, the slaughter in Cambodia by Pol Pot's forces, and the purges carried out by Stalin.

    Ho Chi Minh petitioned the United States for support after World War 2 in which he led Vietnamese guerrilla forces (the Viet Minh) against the Japanese and rescued American and Allied pilots. He was afraid of China which had a long history of attempted invasions of Vietnam. He needed an alliance with a major power for Vietnamese security and the Soviet Union was his SECOND choice.

    Unfortunately, the most critical statement we can read in most US history textbooks is that the Vietnam War was a “noble cause gone awry.” Killing millions of people to impose your political will on a nation on the other side of the world that has no desire or capability to harm you was not, is not, and could never be a “noble cause.”

    Also unfortunately, our failure as a nation to ever honestly confront the immense criminality of what we did to the poor people of that land has facilitated our carrying out more crimes against humanity from Central America and the Caribbean to Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

    Mitchell wrote: “Ho Chi Minh said he would be happy to trade lives with the US and if he could do that, the US public would tire of the war long before he or the NVA or VC would.”

    Another way of saying that was that Ho Chi Minh understood that a people is likely to suffer greater sacrifice when they are fighting for their own homes and their own land than a people fighting a war of occupation in a far away land where they don’t belong.

    Some people just never learn.

    Eduardo Cohen
    1st 503rd Infantry
    173rd Airborne Brigade (unattached)
    US Army, Bien Hoa, Vietnam

    1. Guest

      and continue to do..

  11. robinchicago

    I've been reading much about Viet nam, I had a draft card in 1974 I turned 18. It's very disturbing to think you have an understanding of something, and then learn you don't understand at all. Why did people I knew come back from that place so foreign to me. Never discussing their experience. The even sadder thought is that it still goes on today. My compliments to the film crew on a job well done. ........ Peace.

    1. Louise Emma Marie Armstrong

      I just wrote an essay on Vietnam. I don't really know how I've done on it given that it's so complex & I've only been studying Vietnam for 6 weeks! But the more I read the more interesting it becomes. So tragic. Have you read Caputo's A Rumour of War? And watched McNamara's The Fog of War? Tim O'Brian's The Things they Carried is an other great book...and When Heaven & Earth Changed Places, for the Vietnamese perspective. Unfortunately I have so much to read that I can only skim these texts looking for poignant/revealing passages but when I graduate I will read them all in their entirety!!!;)

  12. Alyssia Hargest

    Er.. who wrote the description for this documentary? I haven't seen it but its a pretty stupid thing to say that life is more valuable in "the Orient" than in the West. Just because Hollywood portrays a US point of view almost constantly, doesn't make it the correct point of view. I'm pretty damn certain Vietnamese soldiers were just as scared, if not more so than Americans (what with the US being the ones with the napalm) and I'm pretty sure their widows didn't cry any less. Totally disrespectful, take it off.

    1. Brittany Eilers

      The quote was from the movie from Gen. Westmoreland (1:43:17).

    2. Cinhus57

      You should read that again... it says,"Life is cheap in the Orient."... not "more valuable" as you state!

    3. john mitchell

      You have it backwards. Life is NOT more valuable in the Orient. It says that life is "cheap in the Orient". This is very true. Ho Chi Minh said he would be happy to trade lives with the US and if he could do that, the US public would tire of the war long before he or the NVA or VC would. North Vietnam lost far more soldiers than the US. I saw the atrocities committed by the VC in village after village, forcing young men to fight for them, stealing from them, and killing anyone who even simply spoke with Americans. Yes, we committed some atrocities, no one's hands are clean, however the North used tactics that the US would not. We never tied a headman to a stake and tortured him and his family simply for talking to the VC. The VC did that on a regular basis to their own people. I had one newsman tell me he couldn't report or send the pictures of that to his "chief", he would fire him. Yeah, balanced reporting at its finest.

  13. gladman911

    More proof that the real casualties of war are innocent civilians and truth. As soon as a war is personalized, it becomes more obvious that all the violence is senseless and ultimately pointless. Ironic that now Vietnam is a tourist destination and many American jobs are ending up there. A raw and disturbing movie.

  14. AAve

    Have you ever heard of " boat people"? I am a Vietnamese and was born after the war. I don't know what happened back then in the war, but I know that thousands of Southern Vietnamese had to flea from their own country when American left, communism invaded the South and hunger started to spread over the South. Many of them went to the ocean on whatever could float to get out of Vietnam.There was even one saying of the South Vietnamese after the war ended:" I might die if I go out there in the ocean but I still have 1% of living than staying here in this country." And even until now, many of Vietnamese, just like me, still try to run away from our own country because we still live in poverty. Sometimes, I think that if Vietnam was still separated, it would be just like South Korea and North Korea.

    1. Guest

      I am no Vietnamese what so ever but old enough to remember. Remember how death wrong were those darned Americans.
      Crooked minds, CIA director Dulles a travestite though going to church every sunday and for sure, as we all know in now days, harboring WWII NAZI war criminals.

      They didn't change a bit since then.
      Swollawing haoxes and packs of lies just as those WMD supposely in Iraq while the the USA elite knows fully that it's a hoax.
      They still are lead by extremist weird christian preachers to whom they ask to be blessed by having the great opportunity of abusing and torturing peoples that do not submit to "Their" pseudo democracy.
      You see in this docu how much US soldiers enjoy causing prejudice, suffering, torture and death around the globe. A sick thrill.
      Whenever Ho Chi Min wrote a letter "CC'ed" to the USA Gov. & the French as he sought an democratic Vietnamese Gov. just as what he was once impressed about the US constitution, he just didn't realised what France & the USA had in mind = War or else hell in abuses of all kind.
      -"Push any man against the wall, and he will resort to what the crooked US mind qualifies as "Communist".

      Lucky enough that in now days, their international "Benefit of Doubt" is close to zero which force their elite to pray on their own sheeps.

      Simply a disgusting nation for which the list of war criminals has no end.
      What's up now in Iraq?
      -"Sorry we made a little mistake", Huh?
      -We'll pay for the deeds once Bush, Cheney, Powell stole all of the ressources out of there?
      Anyhow, we'll have our sheeps pay for the expense of "Our" war criminals that are as everyone knows above all laws known to humankind.



  15. ropativ

    In saying that, why isn't Henry Kissinger being investigated and prosecuted for his crimes against humanity. He was the brain behind the Cambodia secret bombing that triggered tragic chain reactions that costed millions of lives in that country....??

    It seems almost pathetic to see his idiot boss Nixon gave a speech to the Returned POWs in their Dinner Night congratulating the 'brave' pilots of the B52s bombing simple huts and mudhouses killing the elderly, women and children...pretty disgusting.

    The wailing of the humble village man who lost his daughter, son and other members of his family from such high tech weaponry from the B52 bombing raids summed the tragedy well:

    WHY....America, WHY you kill my family for.....?

  16. ropativ

    In the context of this powerful documentary, Obama despite the mammoth tasks facing his term in this economic climate, seems to be the only upfront President who has the strong personal integrity compared to that of his predecessors which went as far as Eisenhower.

    Americans should be proud of someone like him who advocates peace and the pulling out of the troops from all the wrong wars imposed by the self-appointed policeman of the world.

    Mind you, this is not American bashing. Documentaries like this give us hte insight as human beings, that some people in this world are simply killing others by the millions, not only because of their self righteousness and uninvited self imposed ideals for the supposedly common good of other cultures, but because of their self inflated ego. What a pity that a little thing like an ego in someone higher in office could kill millions on a whim!

    Americans should vote for their representatives who 'truly' has the integrity and honesty and compassion for humanity, as these days the corporate dressing up of your candidates can cloud your vision to the amount of probably more than 98%.

  17. Guest

    I don't any low name, insult to convey to any and all adult USA citizens.
    Since the mid 50's, they've search to be the most hated specie to be hated?
    If I'd be an american citizen, I'd sure opt to a swift abortion.


  18. who_me_yeah_you

    Re my earlier comment on Rostow.

    My apologies for stating the very obvious if you have watched the whole doc already. I made it after watching 4 mins or so.

  19. who_me_yeah_you


    You obviously don't get it. These are not the "North Vietnamese" but the "South Vietnamese" ( the distinction created by America) the very people America claimed it was there to help. Enough enough enough indeed. The Afghans and Iraqis ( latter day "beneficiaries" of American help) would indeed agree that enough already.

  20. who_me_yeah_you

    Walt Rostow ironically mocks the director for having to go over "the softmoric stuff". Ho Chi Min made representations to the Americans first and foremost believing their constitution and fight for freedom from colonialists would make them sympathetic to the Vietnamese independence war against Frech Colonial rule. He got no response to several communications over a period of time then turned to the Soviets. Only when he was handing the French their derrieres (despite their being "subsidised" pronounced bankrolled by the US) with no sign of losing did the US force the French to grant "independence to the territory they had not lost to the VA ( later Dubbed the NVA by divide and conquerors). They promptly installed a government of collaborators who declared independence and the US joined to free the Vietnamese from Communism. Sputnik etc is a smoke screen. Revisionism without the vision.

  21. Paul Ward

    The Vietnam conflict was senseless alright, but let's not forget one, they were preventing the spread of Communism... And that's one thing I'm perfectly ok with that

    1. Guest

      Tell me Ward? Did you got treated for your paranoia since then?
      That would make one less to treat out of many millions in the USA?
      The other ones may need special treatments for delirium tremens leading to psychotic murdering habit that goes througb genetical desease,


  22. Catherine

    This was so sad. The people in Vietman did not deserve the civillian casualties. Esp the children. Sick. Innocent children poisoned, burned, blew up.Just sick.

  23. Mad

    Powerful documentary, this proves who the real terrorists are

  24. Sam

    This is so sad. Especially the look on the face of old Vietnamese man while his house was being burnt by the soldiers. Its not just an issue of an American soldier doing this kind of stuff. Perplexing to see how one human being can inflict so much pain on another.

    1. Guest

      The USA, from the mid-50 became the safe heaven to war criminals from WWII who created the CIA for instance (Operation "Paperclip).
      And as time went by, the leaders over there succeeded to install a totalirian regime that goes well as seen in Iraq and Afghanistan.


  25. ReligionIsntAllBad

    One of the more brilliant war docus ever made.

    The most brilliant moment in the entire film ... is when the reality of the deeds the one airforce pilot had carried out hit him on camera (no doubt he had already considered it). He thought of the children that were burned horribly by his actions, and then of his own children. These Vietnamese are real people ... people who could easily be our mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers. Honestly, shame on anyone for trying to sweep it under the rug because it paints America in a negative light.

    You can trace back all through the history of the USA at various wars for empire. Wake up folks, the USA is not the dreamy wonderland that you see with stars in your eyes ... at least not as far as the rest of the world is concerned. The USA has killed good people knowingly, and denied independence to foreign nations after claiming to be assisting their revolution. We have stirred revolution in foreign governments to promote our own agendas. These are not shady conspiracy facts from the fringe ... these are the hard facts of history and they are staring you in the face if only you refuse to turn away.

  26. HMG

    Oh and Kev, I meant to say that your analysis of the imperialists is perfect. Although, the 16 year old American soldiers who were drafted against their will didn't deserve the life-long suffering that they would endure later on. But I believe in karma: What goes around, comes around. I just hope that I won't have to suffer, one day, because of the stupidity of people whom I have never, and will never, support. Even to this day I still back the Vietnamese. I back the so-called enemies of America because 99% of them are innocent individuals, targeted based on biased, stereotyped assumptions.

    Please don't return the hate to all of us... I know I'm not the only American who grieves daily at the helplessness of those who wish to see a change in America's foreign policy making...

  27. HMG

    This was a powerful video, a powerful depiction of what the Vietnam War was like for the Vietnamese. I managed to remain composed until the near end, when the child was crying for the loss of his father, and when the napalm-drenched children were wandering aimlessly. I was pleased at the lessons many of these individuals seemed to have learned, albeit too late since the damage has already been done.

    The Communists were not, and never have been, the enemy of those people. They were trying to liberate them from the corruption of the America-backed South Vietnamese government. Being a Communist myself, it was quite interesting for me to witness a priest, of all people, to justify Communism in the way that he did. Indeed, never once did you hear those people blame the Communists for the napalm, and the bombings, and the ruthless attacks on civilians... it was always the imperialists... the Americans.

    Being an American, I am ashamed at this. Because I see this going on in Afghanistan, and it had gone on in Iraq. What next? Who will America terrorize next? This is no Democracy, because the people have no say in the terror which is spread througout the world by our government's policy makers!!

    And as for "American," your comment is totally unjustified. Anyone who watches this documentary and STILL backs the war and it's corrupt goals is a traitor. You are anti-American for supporting a totally undemocratic war which target civilians, pregnant women, and children. Where torture was used on the civilians just as much as it was returned to the American POWs. Where soldiers who were forced to fight over there lost their lives if not physically, then mentally for the rest of their days walking in hell. You are a terrible person. Go ahead and fear people like me. But you are wasting your time in your ignorance, arrogance, and hatred for humanity. You are selfish for justifying the suffering of so many innocent, both Vietnamese and Americans alike.

    1. Louise Emma Marie Armstrong

      Hear, HEAR!!!!!! ;)

  28. Pipboy

    Good film with solid story. Being a father of 3 y.o. son, I was petrified seeing some images there and really felt for vietnamese and those poor brainwashed grunts that bear lifelong mental and physical scars. I´ve been in military service and have no illusions on that. There is NO glory in dealing of death.

  29. Simon

    Oh and America.

    If you're so certain that you must save the world then why aren't you in Africa where millions are dying every year.

    Oh yeah...no fuc**** oil there is there.


  30. Simon


    I couldn't have putted it better myself.

    Beautiful, just beautiful.

  31. Nikk

    I meant to say OUR nation actually, because I am an American too. Even if I'm ashamed to be one sometimes because of people like you.

  32. Nikk

    The vietnamese never asked us for our help. The autocratic government of Diem in South Vietnam that we set up asked us for help. The Afghanis never asked us for help and neither did the Iraqis.

    The only reason you don't care what the impact on those people was is because you live 3000 miles away in a rich country that dominates every facet of geo politics.

    I'm a pretty peaceful guy so I decided to delete the un-civilized things that your comment made me want to say. You're just an ungrateful punk who doesn't know the value of what it means to wield responsibility equal to the power your nation exerts on the world and our BROTHERS AND SISTERS. Because yeah, even though you hate them, those people ARE you and me and everyone on this forum.

  33. kev


    On behalf of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, The Philippines, Iraq, Afghanistan, Central and South America,the whole of Europe, pretty much everywhere else in the world and Canada i'd just like to say;

    ENOUGH with acting like Gods holy appointed Guardians of the world,If God is on anyones side it surely aint yours.

    ENOUGH with your support of Israels blockade of the Gaza strip cos youre scared of the Jewish lobby and the fact business dictates your government policy.FUCK your pharmaceutical companies and Oil companies.
    ENOUGH with your wars on drugs and terror (Which you will never win, good at starting fights but not very good at finishing them are you?)

    ENOUGH with your arrogant imperialistic militaristic assumption of world dominance, Chinas gonna get ya!

    ENOUGH with your indoctrinated, mind numbed,patriotic flag waving, obese populace of the most ignorant, self centred, self absorbed cunts on the planet.

    Maybe after all the above issues have been addressed the 100% justified Americunt bashing will cease,until then stick your star spangled banner up your fat gaping American arse.

    Oh and BTW,I dont give a f--k about the impact on the American people of 9/11, it was about time someone killed some of you f--kers on your own soil, you deserved it. Dont agree? Do a search on how many bombs you dropped on Laos and Cambodia illegally and tell me it wasnt LONG overdue.

  34. American

    Hate to break it to you weenies this way but...I don't give a damn what the impact was on the People of Vietnam. ENOUGH with the America bashing, ENOUGH with the distorted idea that it's our fault when we are asked to help foreign countries, ENOUGH ENOUGH ENOUGH.

  35. debra_roerig

    I have never found a copy! I wish someone had a copy to sell.

  36. Ajit s

    debra did you ever find "blitzkrieg to the bomb" let me know if you do i would like a copy too!!

  37. Debra Roerig

    looling for old PBS video "Blitzkrieg to the Bomb" from the 1980's. Martin Sheen narrates this video.

  38. Der Oberst

    This documentary does a great job showing how senseless and damaging the Vietnam-War was all involved.

    5 out of 5 Stars!

    Definitely a "must see" documentary on this subject

  39. Erroll

    Hearts and Minds is a powerful film that deals with the Vietnam conflict and is also one of the very few films of this genre that looks at it from the viewpoint of its victims, the Vietnamese people. Another film that should be required viewing from this era is the powerful documentary Sir! No Sir! which came out about 2006 and which told the story of the GI movement that took place at or near military bases both at home and abroad during the time of the Vietnam War.