Film: 5391

War + Military | 1970 | Sound | Colour


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A documentary about the Republic of Vietnam between 1973, when the Americans left and before the North Vietnamese took over.

Vietnamese man on a bicycle riding along a road, various other form of road transport including a Vespa, general traffic on a Saigon street, close up of woman's face as she cycles past. View out of aircraft of trees below, machine guns firing out helicopter. South Vietnamese soldier standing behind a tree holding bazooka over his shoulder, he comes out and walks towards the camera. Close up of Army of Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) soldier with soft hat on, he is speaking into a portable radio telephone, there are shots being fired in the background. Four ARVN soldiers standing by a cannon, two are loading it, the others are handing them shells, behind the cannon there are many mortar shells, there is another cannon next to the first. Side view of a artillery gun firing. Trees in foreground, mortar shell exploding in background, smoke. Aircraft in the sky, curving through shot. Field with rough grass in, hill and trees in background, bomb explodes, smoke billows upwards. Tanks enter side of shot and drive left to right, you can hear guns firing in the background. Soldiers in full camouflage - covered in branches and leaves running through dry grass firing. More soldiers in camouflage running across a field, tanks crossing the same field with the soldiers. Aircraft curving through sky. Napalm bomb explodes, flames billow upwards and turns to black smokes which drifts away.
Close up of bare feet and spade digging a hole, woman wearing black trousers and Vietnamese peasants hat (pointed) is digging a grave, others are digging graves too, camera pans along line of people digging graves into the distance.
At a funeral, a monk with glasses is chanting and tapping a metal bowl to make a ringing sound in the foreground, behind are mourners with white gauze tied round their heads, this is traditional mourning costume, they are mostly wearing white, they are outside, there is a highly decorated coffin in the background, camera closes in on young women in white . Soldier carrying coffin with flag of Republic of South Vietnam draped over it. Flowers in foreground and incense smoke, two women in white pick up and drag away a tearful woman. Soldiers lowering a coffin into the ground as people look on. Close up of little child's face, also dressed in white. Young woman's face, she is crying, priest's metal drum clanging in the foreground.
Titles - Big Ben striking 11. Negative of bearded face. Negative of couple kissing. Negative of soldiers marching. Negative of old man. Big Ben striking 12. Shot of the Earth from space.
Tank driving along dusty road in South Vietnam, trees on other side. Another tank driving along the road, soldiers standing on a tank looking into the camera, tank pulls up, road transport pulls off in background. Tank pulling off with five soldiers sitting on the top of it, camera follows tank, soldiers marching in background, kitbag in foreground. Tank pulling up by house. Soldier and camera on top of the tank looking into village, people wandering about, houses in background, tank turns onto road. Woman in field with cows, old man with cart drawn by bullocks in background, tank pulls into view. ARVN soldier sitting on top of tank putting large headphones over head, barrel of tank's gun in foreground. Tank in field, camera pulls back so we can see trees in foreground, soldiers then walk past.
Airport, an United American Air Force (USAF) planes lands on wet tarmac, close up of wing saying USAF. Narrator tells us this is Paris Peace conference. Television camera sheltered from rain by jacket and umbrella films the landing of the aircraft. There are journalists surrounding the camera. Henry Kissinger stands on the tarmac after getting off the aircraft, he turns and talks to a man. Kissinger walks out of sliding doors towards a group of microphones to do a news conference, he turns then looks back at the journalists who are out of sight. Cameraman and heads of journalists at press conference. Close up of Kissinger with Vietnamese man behind him, he says,
' The President has sent me here for what he hopes will be the final phase of the negotiations to end the war in Indochina. My intentions are to stay as long as is useful and conduct negotiations in the spirit of reconstruction, moderation and goodwill.'
Le Duc Tho, leader of the North Vietnamese delegation, gets out of a car and walks past the camera, he raises his hand in acknowledgement, another Vietnamese man gets out of another car, they are welcomed and escorted up the red carpet into the building. Kissinger gets out of a car, smiles and walks up the carpet. In the hotel foyer there is a huge table covered in green baize, people mill about, Kissinger sits down, Le Duc Tho walks in front of the camera smiling and waving, he turns his back on the camera, waves at the American delegation and then sits down. A man places a the cease-fire document, that will signal American and North Vietnamese withdrawal from South Vietnam, in front of Le Duc Tho for him to sign, he signs it, camera closes in on him signing it. Kissinger and the American delegation sit opposite. Le Duc Tho stands up form the table, camera closes in on him, he waves and smiles, he turns and waves to people behind him, Kissinger bows and turns to a group of people around him. Camera sweeps around the room, showing it is very grand with huge chandeliers.
Saigon airport (Ton Son Nhat), the Americans are withdrawing, American soldiers are standing to attention in the background, on the right of the shot there are two soldiers, one holds the American flag, the other holds a regimental flag on pole horizontal, a third soldiers is rolling up the flag and puts it in a case, the lift the flag pole up, one turns to the other and then marches away. Military band dressed in white, soldiers wearing red berets march through lines of the band. The leaders walk past a platoon of red berets, with an American flag in front, a band is playing. Soldiers with backs to camera saluting. An American general walks up the steps of an aircraft wearing a necklace of flowers, his wife is ahead of him, he turns to the camera and men on the ground and salutes them, he then turns and walks into the aircraft. Another general, this time from the air force, is standing in a group of men on the tarmac, he swigs from a bottle of champagne, he shakes hands with another airman, he turns to the camera and smiles, drinks more champagne and says 'Goodbye Vietnam'. Soldier getting into aircraft, he turns, shakes someone's hand, then gets into the aircraft.
Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on the 17th parallel, it looks like a desert but there is a bombed train track. More sand dunes, there is a rusted helicopter and other remnants of the fighting. Rusting road transport with no tyres. Another rusting vehicle. Rusting but not necessarily used, mortar shells and ammunition. Shell cases standing on their end in the sand, massive dump of artillery shells.
Temple, monk banging a gong (out of shot) with a huge metal pole supported by wire, in far corner we can see part of the temple. Shaven headed Theravada Buddhist monks in a line with alms bowls, a woman walks past giving them gifts. Temple courtyard, crowds of people, women with sticks of incense in their hands, women praying and waving incense, close up of women holding incense.
Young Vietnamese women in Western clothes outside a barber's 'Golden Lotus', a truck drives past. A bar, young woman in Superman t-shirt walks through the tables. Close up of heavily made-up woman in Vietnamese dress (ao dai), various shots of people at tables, mostly women, some American men, one hippy, most of the girls are 'bar girls' - prostitutes, a Vietnamese man walks past wearing a pork pie hat, girl chatting to American man. On the street, people looking into the camera, street stalls. Women on street stalls selling black market goods, they cover them up with sheets as the camera goes past. Woman in hat looks into camera. Street again, crippled person drags himself along the side of a dirty, dusty road, people walk past virtually ignoring him. Crowd shots with another disabled man holding a begging pot. Market scene, women sitting on the ground selling their wares from bamboo baskets. Old woman sitting down with two children, they are eating ice-creams. Young boy monk standing by the road. People sitting round a table at a road-side food stall eating noodles. Old person lying on the pavement. Child and mother. Old woman sitting amongst plastic buckets of food, she is sorting her goods. Little boy with under-developed legs (as result of Agent Orange) kneels on pavement, he has a hat and is half-heartedly begging, people walk past ignoring him. Older women sitting outside temple wall with incense in front of her, she is a fortune teller, a child sits down beside her.
Road transport driving through scrap-yard, scrap metal piled high on either side. People cutting up scrap metal to recycle it. Freshly smelted steel rods, red hot, being pulled out of furnace. Yard full of steel rods piled up, some being carried off by a fork-lift truck. Road transport backing into view with steel rods piled on it.
ARVN soldier holding a gun in lookout post over city. Road with lookout post made of sand bags, soldiers standing on top. Close up of another soldier in a lookout post.
Women in black trousers and white tops walking into brightly lit shed, they reach inside their trousers for their purses and get out their identity cards which they show to another woman. Close up of pistol in holster, man hands over his identity card to soldier.
Road with oil tankers on, column of black smoke in the background. Various shots of flames billowing out of oil depot that has been bombed by the Viet-Cong, VC (Vietnamese Communists).
Soldiers walking up to bombed bridge that used to span the Ben Hai river (the dividing point between North and South Vietnam). Bombed bridge and South Vietnamese flag with soldier leaning against railing. Group of young ARVN soldiers. Young woman carrying goods towards bridge.
Refugees flooding towards Saigon, a road with all sorts of road transport; three-wheeled vehicles, one so full that a man is hanging off the side, there are also carts pulled by bullocks and motor-bikes. Old man sitting on a cart pulled by bullocks. Busy road with motor transport and carts. Women sitting on a cart. Little boy walking along empty road with younger sister tied to his back.
We can hear an aircraft, we see it's shadow cast on the ground as it flies along. Inside the cockpit, a man with his back to us talks to the pilot. Bird's eye view of a Vietnamese village, there is farmland to the left of the picture, camera closes in on three vehicles with people standing in front, they are the international observers here to make sure the cease-fire is kept.
Canadian soldier and Indonesian United Nations soldier (with a blue beret on) shaking hands with others, non-combatant in the background. Hungarian soldiers coming out of building, another joins them and they turn their backs on the camera and walk off. Four more soldiers come out, this time they are Polish, they are carrying bottle of beer and one has dark glasses on.
Red Cross ambulance speeding along road through village, children look on from side of the road. A Canadian soldier and independent (non-combatant) observer looking at a bomb crater. They walk towards a building that is riddled with bullet holes. Close up of bullet holes, as the camera pulls away we see children playing amongst the rubble and a Vietnamese man trying to clear-up some of the mess. Bombed building with people standing around. Close up of large bullet hole, camera turns round to see the whole room, thee are children searching through the rubble with a Vietnamese soldier. Bombed house, no roof, rubble everywhere, there are people standing around in the background, a man lifts up a broken cot, he turns it over to see if it is useable. Close up of child holding a baby. Back to bombed house again.
Ton Son Nhat Airbase, Saigon, two Vietnamese soldiers in foreground, huge aircraft in background, North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and VC prisoners sitting on the tarmac in red uniforms, some are injured, one has a bandage over one eye, close up of him. Road transport pulls into view there are two ARVN soldiers standing on the back of the truck, inside are NVA and VC prisoners. Negotiations between international observers over the repatriation of prisoners, group of men taking, close up of one Canadian soldier. Prisoners of war (POWs) helping to carry a stretcher with another POW on, out of an army ambulance. NVA commander wearing khaki peaked cap with red star on sitting in car with another soldier (supposedly a VC commander) talking. Outside the car international observers are crowding round, they are debating with the men in the car. Three POW's are in a field, two are standing, one has no legs below the knees, one bends down and the crippled one gets on his back, they walk off. Back on the tarmac a crippled POW hobbles past rows of other POW's on crutches, he only as one leg. More POW's on stretchers and another man on crutches, he has a checked scarf tied over his head. Crippled man being helped onto aircraft. ARVN prisoners in green being released they are being herded into road transport.
Saigon, a military band dressed in white playing at side of the road. Close up of woman's face, women dressed in white, they look like nurses, they are holding banners. Men dressed in white also holding banners, they are protesting against the North Vietnamese and demanding peace.
A clinic, Vietnamese nurses and people going in and out. A female doctor giving an old woman an injection, behind her there is a table with various medical instruments on, the woman gets up and talks to a nurse. Little girl with mouth wide open, a nurse with a huge syringe moves towards her to give her an injection in her mouth. Female doctor with stethoscope listening to someone's heartbeat.
Vietnamese man speaking, he is sitting at a table with some others. Large crowd of people listening to what he's saying. Close up of old man in audience, close up of his wedding ring. Close up of two young women. Close up of rifle, soldier guarding the audience, fade to background of people seated.
Women in khaki uniforms singing. Road leading up to presidential palace in Saigon, it is lined with trees, there are two soldiers in khaki facing the camera and a line of soldiers in white with their backs to us, they line the side of the road, Vietnamese politicians, lead by President Thieu are walking along the road. More women in khaki singing, man with back to us conducting. Thieu giving a speech in front of lectern, there is a banner to the side of him.
Soldiers waking through a village, there is the sound of helicopters and bombing in the background, they are marching through battle-scarred land, the soldier at the head is carrying the South Vietnamese flag.
President Thieu is standing in a jeep inside a stadium, there are thousands of people in the stands, he drives round the stadium waving, everywhere people are waving flags of the Republic of Vietnam, three men run up to the jeep to take photos of their leader, there is much cheering and flag waving.
Child crying on battle-scarred soil, rusty reminders of the war, vehicles and cannons, left to rust. Five soldiers standing in a field milling about, one has his back to us, at his feet is a dead man.
Madame Thieu at a rally wearing Vietnamese dress (ao dai) smiling at photographers, she is shaking hands with people. She shakes hands with a monk in dark brown robes. She joins her husband, they walk up some steps towards the camera, behind them there are many people looking on.
Soldiers standing on bombed bridge looking out over the Ben Hai river, in the background we can see the North Vietnamese flag on the north bank.
People carrying banners and flags of the Republic of (south) Vietnam. Demonstrators waving flags and banners. Close up of little boy Close of old women in hats walking along in the demonstration. Aircraft flying over demonstration.
Inside an aircraft down looking down onto the ground, gun and ammunition at side of shot. The ground below has obviously been covered with Agent Orange as the trees have all died and it is looking very bare.

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