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Sailors push a helicopter off a landing platform of the U.S.S. Kirk to clear room for more helicopters dropping off refugees. Handout PBS For editorial use only in conjunction with the direct publicity or promotion of this program for a period of three years from the program's original broadcast date, unless otherwise noted. No other rights are granted. All rights reserved.

3 out of 4 stars

Title
Last Days in Vietnam
Written by
Mark Bailey and Keven McAlester
Directed by
Rory Kennedy
Genre
Documentary
Country
USA
Language
English
Year
2015

In April, 1975, with North Vietnamese forces closing in, there were four options available to clear out the American diplomats and remaining military operatives still in Saigon. The fourth option involved helicopters, if all else failed. All else failed. Last Days in Vietnam is an important, evenly-wrought documentary from Rory Kennedy, the daughter of Bobby and Ethel. The film's talking heads are the men who were there, and they talk very well indeed – about the chaos at the U.S. embassy, and their moral duty to evacuate – against White Horse orders – their South Vietnamese allies and their families. There's nothing innovative in the filmmaking, it's simply a gracefully told story – tense here; poignant there – with strong detailing. The playing of White Christmas on Armed Forces Radio was the signal to the Americans left in the falling city that the rush out was on. Hearing it in the film over the disarray lends a surreal touch to an American misadventure of broken promises that ironically ended with bold, commendable acts of humanity.

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