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Sir! No Sir! - The Suppressed Story of the GI Movement to End the War in Vietnam

46 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Easily the most timely and resonant film about the soldiers on the front lines of antiwar resistance, the award-winning breakout theatrical hit SIR! NO SIR! Tells an almost entirely forgotten story of the military men and women who helped force the U.S. government to end the Vietnam War. Contrary to the popular image of long-haired hippies spitting on returning soldiers, SIR! NO SIR! vividly demonstrates that GIs were the heart and soul of the anti-war movement. Poignantly narrated by a diverse cast of veteran GI resisters who recall the ferocious days of peace marches and stiff jail sentences, SIR! NO SIR! pulls no punches in its raw depiction of the power of people, especially those in uniform. Directed by David Zeiger, SIR! NO SIR! is "powerful stuff, offering us not only a new look at the past, but to the unavoidably relevant insights into the present" (New York Daily News).

Pundits often make parallels between America's involvement in Iraq and the nightmare that was Vietnam; director-writer-producer David Zeiger's Sir! No Sir! does it too. But while the comparisons are generally apt (both conflicts are known as "quagmires," became hugely unpopular with the public, and inflicted serious political damage on the presidents who presided over them), this documentary makes a vital distinction: namely, that some of the most vocal and active opponents of the Vietnam War were the very soldiers who fought in it. These are haunted men who went to Southeast Asia because it was their duty, perhaps even because they saw it as the right thing to do, only to become sorely disillusioned when they witnessed the horrible injuries, the villages bombed for little or no reason, the civilians tortured and killed, and various other horrors that took place "in country." Some, like the so-called Nine for Peace, formed GI protest groups while still on active duty in Vietnam; some went AWOL (there were reportedly 500,000 incidents of desertion); a great many, including soldiers who refused to be deployed to 'Nam at all, were court-martialed and imprisoned in military stockades like San Francisco's Presidio, while still others returned home, joined movements like Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and published virulent underground newspapers. All of this is delivered via personal anecdotes, photos, and occasional file footage. The material is undoubtedly compelling, but Sir! No Sir! pretty much makes its point in the first half hour, rendering the final hour somewhat tedious. And that's not even including the nearly two hours of accompanying bonus material. Most of the latter consists of extended interviews based on what we've already seen in the main program; there's also a look at the Winter Soldier inquiry (the subject of a separate documentary), as well as a joint appearance by "Hanoi Jane" Fonda, Vietnam's most infamous celebrity protester, and Cindy Sheehan, who became an anti-war activist after her son was killed in Iraq in 2004. --Sam Graham

Special Features

  • Rebellion at the Ft. Dix Stockade
  • Organizing a Union in the Military
  • Black GIs and "the Enemy"
  • Vietnam GI--The First Underground Paper
  • Life and Escape in the Presidio Stockade
  • The Winter Soldier Investigation: Indicting the Government
  • David Zeiger's Return to Fort Hood
  • Pirate Radio DJ Dave Rabbit Speaks!
  • The Courtmartial of Camilo Mejia: Iraq War Resister
  • Cindy Sheehan and Jane Fonda: From Vietnam to Iraq
  • Veterans "Return" Their Medals in Only the Beginning
  • The Oleo Strut GI Coffeehouse in Summer of '68
  • Rita Martinson Sings "Soldier, We Love You" in FTA
  • Filmmaker biography

Product Details

  • Actors: Louis Font, Michael Wong (IX), Joe Bangert, Dave Blalock, Howard Levy (II)
  • Directors: David Zeiger
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: December 19, 2006
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000IB0DE4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,319 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Sir! No Sir! - The Suppressed Story of the GI Movement to End the War in Vietnam" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 23, 2006
Format: DVD
We all--even those too young to have participated in it--recall the demonstrations that took place during the Vietnam war. Some of them had upwards of a million people at them. They represent what most of us remember as "the 60s."

But a movement of which we don't hear much is the movement within the services of men--mostly men as women didn't serve too many combat roles in those day--who opposed the war.

As informed as I claim to be, I knew little of this movement until I saw this fine film.

There were "underground" newspapers at the bases. Of course, law enforcement did its best to stop that. In one case, a troop was accused of having some marijuana in his car and was arrested thereby stopping his newspaper.

The army in that era tried to make themselves look like the "new army," just a bunch of wonderful guys preparing for a career and getting job training. (Their slogan at the time was FTA for "Fun, Travel and Adventure. The movements changed those words, and Jane Fonda and her fellow showpeople eased THOSE words a little to make them. "free the army.) But the Marines continued to "build men." But even the Marines had movements to end the war.

I liked the interviews with Fonda. The military did their best to keep the Fonda show off the road, but they had an audience, even among Marines! They loved it!

There's some great material in here. There's interviews with guys now in their 60s, and the things they did, the way they came around. Just lots of information of which I was unaware before. Great stuff.

But for the last portion of the film, the story concludes that the history has been rewritten. Not only do you not hear of these movements.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Daniel B. Clendenin on January 25, 2007
Format: DVD
Talk about brave soldiers. This documentary film tells the stories of the thousands of active duty GIs and retired veterans, both at home and in Vietnam, who agitated to end the war in Southeast Asia. Their means were many-- a network of coffee houses, a full-page ad in the NY Times signed by 1400 active duty soldiers, 300 underground newspapers, sits-ins, public marches, pirate radio, petitions, refusal to go on patrols, and even "fragging" (killing their superior officers with fragment grenades). Many of these people of conscience spent considerable time in prison. The original film footage of the Vietnam war and personal interviews with veterans who explain why they did what they did are deeply moving. These firsthand witnesses knew the truth of war-- the degradation, propaganda, government lies, cynicism, torture, and how war might turn some boys into men but it turns far more people into animals. I watched this film with a deep sense of gratitude. Popular history makes fun of Jane Fonda but consider this--in this film you'll see that her audiences included not just leftie hippies but 60,000 active duty soldiers who agreed with her. According to this film the Pentagon documented 503,926 "incidents of desertion." After watching this film read the book by Chris Hedges, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By D. Hartley on September 25, 2007
Format: DVD
There have been a good number of excellent documentaries examining various aspects of the Sixties protest movement ("The War At Home","Berkeley In The Sixties" and "The Weather Underground" but none focusing specifically on the members of the armed forces who openly opposed the Vietnam war-until now. "Sir! No Sir!" is a fascinating look at the GI anti-war movement during the era. Director David Zeigler combines present-day interviews with archival footage to good effect in this well-paced documentary.

Most people who have seen Oliver Stone's "Born On The Fourth Of July" were likely left with the impression that paralyzed Vietnam vet and activist Ron Kovic was the main impetus and focus of the GI movement, but Kovic's story was in fact only one of thousands (Kovic, interestingly, is never mentioned in Ziegler's film). While the aforementioned Kovic received a certain amount of media attention at the time, the full extent and history of the involvement by military personnel has been suppressed from public knowledge for a number of years, and that is the focus of "Sir! No Sir".

In one very astutely chosen archival clip, a CBS news anchor somberly announces that there appears to be some problems with "troop morale" in Vietnam (while in the meantime, behind closed doors, the US military was apparently imprisoning dissenting GIs left and right under "incitement to mutiny" charges, sometimes just for being overheard expressing anti-war sentiments). All the present-day interviewees (Army, Air Force,Navy and Marine vets) have interesting (and at times emotionally wrenching)stories to share. Jane Fonda speaks candidly about her infamous "FTA" ("F--- The Army") shows that she organized for troops as an antidote to the somewhat creaky and more traditional Bob Hope USO tours. Well worth your time. The film would make an excellent double bill with the clasic documentary "Hearts And Minds".
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By mirasreviews HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 23, 2007
Format: DVD
In "Sir! No Sir!", director David Zeiger revives a perspective on the Vietnam War that was seemingly forgotten, or perhaps even deliberately squelched, since the 1970s: that of the anti-war movement within the U.S. military. Zeiger was among the civilian staff at "The Oleo Strut", an anti-war G.I. coffeehouse in Killeen, Texas, during the Vietnam War, so he is personally familiar with the movement. Through archival news footage and interviews with about 2 dozen former servicemen and officers who actively opposed the war in Vietnam, as well as some of their civilian supporters, "Sir! No Sir!" tells the story of the anti-war movement within the U.S. armed forces from 1966 to 1975, when American military involvement in Vietnam ceased.

David Zeiger's purpose in "Sir! No Sir!" is not only to remind people that the Vietnam War was very unpopular even with many of those who fought it, but to make the point that being anti-war is not anti-soldier and never has been. According to the Pentagon, there were a half a million "incidents of desertion" during the Vietnam War. There were nearly 300 anti-war G.I. underground newspapers. In Vietnam, there were a disturbing number of mutinies and violent attacks on officers -so many that they may have played a part in the shift to an air war. In the U.S., there were anti-war G.I. coffeehouses, sit-ins, boycotts, and stockades full of servicemen who refused their orders to Vietnam or had attended protests.

The public knew that there was significant dissent within the military. It was all over newspapers and television news programs at the time. And people knew that anti-war protesters sympathized with the soldiers, wanting nothing more than to bring the troops home safely.
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