‘The Vietnam War’ Filmmaker on the Horrifying Execution Footage That’s ‘Unbearable to Look At’
[Editor’s Note: The following contains an image of graphic violence below, a photo taken during the war that is being discussed in context with the documentary and the Tet Offensive.]
At the halfway point of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s “The Vietnam War,” the documentary series reaches the Tết Offensive, one of the biggest military offensives by the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong that turned the tide of the war, even though it was deemed a failure. Episode 6, titled “Things Fall Apart” is one of the most relentless and graphically violent installments of the series so far, but is absolutely essential viewing to understanding how both the Vietnamese and Americans viewed the war going forward.
One of the biggest contributors to the American perception of the war occurred early on during the Tết Offensive, on its second day. After Northern Vietnamese spy Nguyễn Văn Lém violated the rules of warfare, Nguyễn was captured and then executed by South Vietnam’s General Loan. The image of the execution was captured by photographer Eddie Adams at the moment Loan’s bullet hit Nguyễn’s head. »
- Hanh Nguyen
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