The Vietnam War

Movie review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The Vietnam War Movie Poster Image
Outstanding docu is insightful, objective, and violent.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Historical account of how the Vietnam War was politically and socially divisive in the United States. Underscores the long-lasting effects it has had on the people and nations involved. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Peasants, soldiers, and anti-war protestors are patriots, enemies, and victims, depending on the point of view.


Photographs, film footage of battles, violent protests, beatings, shootings. Bloody injuries, mutilated corpses, and other grisly imagery is commonplace, shown in context. Rape discussed.  


Prostitution discussed.  


Curses bleeped. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drug use discussed. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Vietnam War is an insightful, objective, and extremely violent documentary series about the Vietnam War. It contains endless photographs and footage of violent events, brutal murders, and bloody, mutilated corpses. There are many firsthand accounts from people who were impacted in various ways by this complicated war, and lots of images of disturbing events both in the U.S. and abroad. Curses are bleeped, but there are references to prostitution, rape, and drug use. It's an excellent series, like most of Ken Burns' work, but it's too strong for younger kids. Many adult viewers may also find it difficult to watch. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byDaniel B October 15, 2017

Good documentary for adults and older teens.

I find it interesting, especially because there are interviews with people from the different sides(not just american soldiers but war reporters north and south... Continue reading

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What's the story?

Produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, THE VIETNAM WAR is a documentary series that offers an in-depth and extremely visual account of the history and consequences of one of the most controversial conflicts in American history from multiple points of view. Narrated by Peter Coyote, is relies on film footage, photographs, interviews, and first-person accounts from former military leaders, soldiers, government representatives, and civilians from all sides of the war to tell the story. It highlights the complicated political, economic, and social reasons behind the conflict, as well as the U.S. policies that contributed to it. It also examines the impact the war in Indochina had, and continues to have, within U.S. borders.

Is it any good?

This outstanding documentary series offers a systematic and detailed account of the Vietnam War and its aftermath, from 1858 French colonialism to the present. It examines how Vietnam's view of, and relationship with, the French, Japanese, and Americans contributed to the rise of nationalism in the country. It notes how post-World War II Cold War politics exacerbated these tensions and made the overall situation more volatile. Meanwhile, it underscores the sheer brutality of the war from all sides by successfully humanizing the overall experience. 

The connections are clearly made between decades of U.S. policies in Indochina and what transpired in Vietnam as a result. The consequences these policies had on the United States include the loss of over 58,000 soldiers and the nationally divisive civil unrest and violent events that define the era. The Vietnam War isn't easy to watch, but it takes an objective and honest look at the irreversible impact this controversial and often misunderstood military conflict has had on the United States and everyone involved in it. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the war in Vietnam. What caused it? Why was the United States a part of it? What happened to the soldiers who came back after it was over?

  • Does The Vietnam War address the issues surrounding the conflict differently from other documentaries about the subject? How does it differ from Hollywood representations?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love history

Themes & Topics

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