Last Days

Published September 18, 2014

ABOVE: STILL FROM LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM

Two years after the 1973 Paris Accords won Henry Kissinger the Nobel Peace Prize and supposedly ended the war in Vietnam, North Vietnam marched on the South. In this month’s harrowing documentary Last Days in Vietnam, filmmaker Rory Kennedy focuses on the frantic final days of the American presence in (what was then) Saigon. This incisive film details those desperate, helicopter-clinging hours through a combination of archival footage and accounts from survivors. How there were any of the latter, this film explains: flouting direct orders from Washington, a group of American soldiers and, eventually, Ambassador Graham Martin, carried out a last-minute effort to evacuate as many South Vietnamese as possible. Kissinger is a talking head in Last Days, but Kennedy says it’s the Vietnamese featured that “give the film meaning,” and whose stories “represent tens of thousands of people” whose words were lost when we left them—and the war—behind.