We could do a whole season on Vietnam war films, but in this episode we chose three films that highlight the Cold War’s omnipresence in daily life. You wouldn’t associate any of these films with how Vietnam figured into the Cold War dynamic because they are about the homefront. The Deer Hunter (1978), Coming Home (1978), and Da Five Bloods (2020) are reminders (or are they revelations?) that the Vietnam War deeply wounded American society from top to bottom. Whether it’s working class immigrants in rural Pennsylvania, severely wounded veterans and their caretakers, or Black and Brown soldiers contending with racism and shattered lives decades removed from the war, our three films depict the Cold War homefront in vivid detail. We often think of the Cold War as an impersonal contest between global powers that nearly ended the world, but the Vietnam War was incredibly personal for millions of Americans and Vietnamese.
Lia Paradis is a professor of history at Slippery Rock University. Brian Crim is a professor of history at the University of Lynchburg. For more on Lies Agreed Upon, go here.
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