Richter Documentaries
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Vietnam: An American Journey

Healing the wounds of war
Written, directed and produced by Robert Richter

This powerful and unprecedented report, first by an American filmmaker after the military conflict, movingly documents the human and physical scars of a damaged country as it tries to rebuild the lives of its people and heal the wounds of war.

"Robert Richter was the first American filmmaker allowed in Vietnam after the war, and his seven-week trip down Highway One from Hanoi to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) is an enlightening, often touching portrait of civilian rehabilitation after a national trauma."
—Village Voice

My Lai -- The emotional peak of the film is a woman at the site of the massacre who tearfully describes the tragedy and how she managed to be one of the few survivors. She was unknown in the U.S. before this film's theatrical release in 1979.

"Terrific documentary in the best tradition of the genre and a just and unbiased piece of journalism. With the distance of 30 years it is by now a historical document in its own right... 5 out of 5 stars."
—Catinat Flaneur, German film reviewer, 2009

“It's a forthright, unpretentious account of a filmmaker's journey.... dramatically reminds us....that real people lived at the other end of all those military flights. It shocks us that we are shocked by a peacetime Vietnam.” Pat Aufderheide, In These Times

  • Human rehabilitation -- a Center for the Redignification of Women who had been wartime prostitutes, a center to treat drug addicts, an orphanage with U.S.-Vietnamese children, a physical rehabilitation center for patients who lost limbs from post-war land mine detonations
  • Physical rehabilitation -- a Swedish pulp mill project, a French-sponsored bicycle factory, a UN project to rebuild the war-damaged palace at Hue
  • Cultural events -- dramatic opera, humorous circus performers, patriotic ballet, solo musicians, visits to the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, a War Crimes museum
  • Work -- in factories, markets and rice padis

Side trips to a UN refugee camp for Cambodians who fled to Vietnam to escape Pol Pot, exclusive interviews with government officials and ordinary Vietnamese also are part of this historic film. Wartime action is intercut with today's Vietnam. Many locations had never been filmed before.

A real portrait of a nation we can never forget.

"In addition to all the scenes and can also catch a glimpse of the beautiful Vietnamese rural landscape with exquisite traditional music in the background. The video reflects the sense of confidence and optimism of the regime in the first few years after its victory. A subtle plea for reconciliation...and normalization of diplomatic relations with Vietnam."
—The Indochina Institute Report, George Mason University

85 minutes

Study Areas: Social and political history, American studies, American history, Vietnam war, Asian history, war and peace, Asian Studies, East Asian Studies, peace studies