The lasting effects of the Vietnam War are as potent a part of pop culture in 2020 as the unfolding war was itself in the late 1960s. Though the war has been over for 45 years, its particularly poignant impact on film and television might have something to do with the fact that it was the first war to be fully televised. People from all over the world were able to tune in and not only see some of the shocking events taking place thousands of miles across the globe but also express their views about the war in new ways.
A litany of films were released in reaction to the Vietnam War both in the immediate years after it ended and while the war was still raging on—some films were even shot on location in close proximity to active battle zones. These films harbor differing sentiments toward the war itself, some choosing to focus more heavily on the honorable sacrifices made by brave men and women; others on the damaging mental and emotional effects of battle; or the inadequacy of the U.S. government response to assisting veterans and the damage done to the native Vietnamese people.
In 2020, the hurt inflicted upon many by involvement in the Vietnam War still lingers and colors the experiences of people who are still alive. Just because battle ended in 1975 does not mean the battle has ended for those still suffering from trauma and PTSD, in addition to the enduring influence on politics, social justice, human rights, and foreign policy. People still carry stories that demand to be told, and the war has successfully immortalized itself within pop culture because of this.
Stacker combed all war films on IMDb as of Dec. 10, 2020, sifted through to pick out those that dealt with Vietnam, and ranked the top 50 according to IMDb user rating with ties broken by vote count. Films that focused explicitly on aspects of the conflict were included, whether they took place before, during, or after the war. Counting down from 50, here are the best movies about the Vietnam War.
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