Documentary Review: ‘My Father’s Vietnam’

In the new documentary, My Father’s Vietnam, first time filmmaker Soren Sorensen brings us a touching look at some of the people involved with the Vietnam War. From the soldiers who went to Vietnam to the people left behind, Soren interviews various friends, family, and other acquaintances to try to piece together a picture of why people fought in Vietnam, or chose not to fight, what happened to those that did go, and how those left behind were impacted.

The film opens with a brief narration from Soren about his past and upbringing. He speaks of a trip to the Vietnam Memorial when he saw his father, Peter Sorensen, tear up and almost cry; naturally leading Soren to be hesitant to talk to his father about that subject for many years. This then leads into an interview with his father about his experience during the Vietnam War.

Peter talks about his family’s legacy, how men in his family went to war if there was a war on, and how he was not really eager to go to Vietnam since it was a “bogus” war. But he went because that was the mindset of most men of the time. Loring Bailey, Sr., the father of a friend of Soren’s, spoke about the defiance of many men at the time decided to go to war instead of waiting to be drafted.

These are just a couple early examples of the types of discussions covered in this film. There are more conversations with his father and mother, plus more conversations with people who didn’t have to go due to medical reasons, who people who chose not to go/would have chosen not to go if their number had come up, and family of those that didn’t make it back. Enlightening conversations about the aftermath of the war, including the effects of the war on the participants and their loved ones.

My Father’s Vietnam is a somber reminder that war has consequences beyond the battlefields. At least one person that Soren requested an interview from declined because the pain and anger of the war was still too fresh in her mind. The calendar says that May 30, 2016 is Memorial Day in the United States, a day that we should pause to remember those lives lost in wartime. However, this award-winning documentary is beautifully crafted, with good musical accompaniment, and should not be limited by the date on the calendar; it is well worth a look by anybody, anytime, anywhere.

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