BA in History
This four part essay takes a comprehensive look at articles published in the Los Angeles Times and New York Times to determine how and why critics reviewed essential films about the Vietnam War. It thereby highlights the trends that emerged in their reaction to them. The first section analyzes critics’ response to Coming Home (1978). As the first major film with direct reference to Vietnam, Coming Home posed a unique problem for film critics. The second section analyzes the second major film about Vietnam, The Deer Hunter (1978). The majority of newspaper critics defended Cimino’s epic against negative claims that the film was historically inaccurate. Since Coming Home and The Deer Hunter qualified in the same Academy Award year, it is necessary to talk about their popular reception together, in a third, separate category. The final section of this essay emphasizes the shift in critics’ response to Platoon (1986). Instead of focusing on the inaccuracies presented in the film, newspaper critics largely praised it as the first real attempt at a Vietnam War film. Since this essay is not a filmography, numerous films are not mentioned in detail; the three films discussed stand as representations for the types of reviews that films in the Vietnam War genre received.