We Were Soldiers (2002)

The beginning of the film is the 1954 scene of the Second Indochina War when a French army unit is marching through Ia Drang Hill (where US forces led by Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore 11 years later). Here, the French Army was ambushed and destroyed by the Viet Minh forces. The Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Huu An ordered his soldiers to “Kill all they send, and they will stop coming.”

We Were Soldiers is a U.S. war film reenact on the battle of la Drang in Vietnam War, which took place on November 14, 1965. It was the first large-scale battle involving the U.S. military and the main force of the Vietnamese People’s Army. The film was based on the book, We Were Soldiers Once … And Young (1992) by Lieutenant General Hal Moore and reporter Joseph L. Galloway, both of whom were at the battle.

As for We Were Soldiers, its central narrative entails the reenactment of the Battle of Ia Drang. The principal message throughout the film is that American GIs were fighting for their comrades, not for the cause of the war. A new theme accompanying this depiction of patriotism is the respect for victims on the other side, as evidenced in a scene with dying VCs and widows reading their husbands’ diaries.[1]The Vietnam War on the silver screen in the twenty-first century seems to be more realistic than films made in previous decades. The American soldiers are still depicted as young, but they are more disciplined, well-prepared for battle, and have a stronger comradeship than the soldiers in Oliver Stone’s Platoon.[2]We Were Soldiers is based on Lt. Gen. Hal Moore’s combat experience during the Battle of Ia Drang, fighting alongside his soldiers. BothWe Were Soldiers and Platoon re-create war episodes using personal experiences, but since they were produced at different times, the emotive tone in their narratives is subsequently different. Platoon is an antiwar film that reflects the divisions within U.S. society about the war.[3]We Were Soldiers glorifies American unity and individual valor as demonstrated by American soldiers during wartime.

[1]John Kleinen, “Framing ‘the Other’: A Critical Review of Vietnam War Movies and Their Representation of Asians and Vietnamese.” Asia Europe Journal 1, no. 3 (2003): 434.

[2]Martin, Receptions of War, 99-100. Despite Martin’s statements described the stereotype groups of Vietnamese people in Go Tell the Spartan (1978, directed by Ted Post), this is the common depictions of Vietnamese people in American films.

[3]Kleinen, “Framing ‘the Other,’” 445.


(Apocalypse Now Redux)