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American Experience: My Lai

4.7 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

In an exploration of the morality of actions taken in the name of war, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE directs its lens to the 1968 My Lai massacre and asks what drove a company of American soldiers to commit the worst atrocity in American military history? Were they just following orders or, did they crumble under the pressure of a vicious war in which the line between enemy soldier and civilian had been intentionally blurred?

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Directors: Barak Goodman
  • Writers: Barak Goodman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG-13
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: June 8, 2010
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003CP1SS8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,399 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This 90 minute documentary is well done and does a nice job of giving a full picture of what happened before, during, and after the My Lai fiasco. For those who want to have a clearer understanding of the massacre this is well worth watching. It does a nice job of putting into perspective of what the soldiers were going through and their state of mind before they went into the village of My Lia that fateful day. Often times historic events are told without putting the people and situation into context of the times and events but this documentary does it's best to do so.

The documentary also covers all the players in the event, those who exposed what happen and those who tried to covered it up, and the Public. The public was as much of a player in this event and why many of the decisions that were made by the military and civilian leaders were done so. Clearly this is not a shinning moment in American history but we all should take note of it and learn from it so we don't repeat it. This American Experience feature continues the award winning series of telling different events in our history, good and bad, so we don't forget our past.
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Format: DVD
Two news events in the first half of 1970 irrevocably altered the course of the Vietnam War. One was the National Guard killing of four Kent State University students (and the wounding of nine others) in May of that year. The other was the Cleveland Plain Dealer's publication two months earlier of an Army photographer's color snapshots of piles of civilian dead in a Qu'ng Ngãi Province village called My Lai. All were victims of American soldiers.

On 3/16/68, that rice paddy hamlet was leveled by men of the 23rd Division's Charlie Company, who acted under orders of Capt. Ernest Medina to kill all living things and burn all structures. They were retaliating for sniper attacks and land mines that had caused nearly 25% casualties in Company C. Some were more zealous in carrying out Medina's command than others. Lt. William Calley racked up the most kills that day.

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This gruesome story, its subsequent cover-up by the military and later being brought to world attention, are deftly told in the 90 minute PBS AMERICAN EXPERIENCE episode entitled "My Lai." Old photos, film clips and audio tapes, plus modern interview excerpts of participants, witnesses and survivors are presented without editorial comment. All sides are given voice. Capt. Medina and Lt. Calley, the only man tried and convicted (of 22 premeditated murders), do not appear in modern interviews. A year before this documentary aired however, Calley publicly expressed regret for his behavior at My Lai, yet as we see here, a couple of the lieutenant's men still maintain they did nothing wrong in lining up civilians and gunning them down or shooting them as, unarmed, they exited their huts.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Extremely informative while also being soundly entertaining. I use this video in my U.S. history classes, as well as a class I teach on America's involvement in war. It wears well, and the students find it engaging and useful. It also serves as a great discussion piece, as we can stop it and discuss some of the more controversial elements contained within. It has much graphic and realistic film footage from the war, as well as the typical first person statements from men who were there and witnessed what happened. Extremely good piece of television journalism, and historically accurate.
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Format: DVD
Another fine documentary from the PBS catalog directed with a flair strikingly similar to Errol Morris. MY LAI traces the snowball of events that led to possibly the biggest embarrasment and atrocity of Vietnam War/Conflict. Watch this with "Judgement: The Court Martial of Lt. William Calley" for an overall assessment of the incident.

Ironically, the entire My Lai Massacre is comparable to Nazi war crimes though not on such a grandiose scale. Yet the U.S. government and military chose to start at the bottom of the totem pole instead of the top when attempting to mete out justice, the exact opposite approach to that at Nuremberg. Ultimately the crimes went unpunished and swept under the rug... or the United States Flag. Obviously we have a different view of justice when dealing with our own. Such hypocracy is a worse atrocity than the mass murder itself.
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Format: DVD
I can't say enough about this film, it was so well done, and my prose is too feeble. But it is very in-depth. Lots of literate, insightful and informational first-hand accounts by people who were there in a situation they couldn't control-- soldiers and survivors. At least one soldier felt that what occurred at My Lai was a necessary operation, or his duty to follow orders trumped anything else.
Well-narrated and written, the story of this evil day starts by explaining a bit about the war, about the unit involved, straight through to its aftermath in the US. What floored me was-- the whole thing, those poor people, so many terrorized, killed, tortured for nothing--was not even really a military event, in a sense. Instead, it was a few guys in charge who made bad decisions, probably on purpose, and, psycho, seemed to want to kill. Old people. Women. Children. And then, how many other 'My Lais' were there? Who knows? More than this one. My Lai had a few good photographers/reporters there that day, as well as a helicopter pilot who deserved the Nobel Peace Prize and some good soldiers. Other hamlets weren't so lucky.
It is a scary movie. It isn't about some 'them', like Nazis or the Taliban , who did this stunning evil. It was our military, fighting for freedom. Very scary, how most people can behave if forced, or frightened, or coerced, or because of orders. Or just for hijinks. Watch this.
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