Introduction: War will always have impacts on society and culture. Within the realm of popular culture, popular films released after the end of the Vietnam War reflect a range of public perspectives about the conflict. This lesson plan will involve a review of popular films that depict the Vietnam War, era, and veterans, as well as more recent popular films that depict more recent wars. Students will examine the perspectives of these films and how the range of perspectives was reflected in broader society following the war.
Pre-visit activity Ask students to create a list of movies they have seen that have a focus on the Vietnam War, era, or veterans (for a list, see: http://www.vvmf.org/teaching-vietnam). Ask each student to choose a favorite from the list and explain his/her reasoning for why it’s his/her favorite. If a student hasn’t see any—ask him or her to choose one to watch at home. For that movie, ask students to answer the following questions:
What issues are depicted in the movie?
Would you say that the movie takes a position on the war? What evidence supports your answer?
What part or parts of the movie struck you? Why?
What do you think someone who had no background on the Vietnam War or era would take away about it from this movie?
Ask students to poll 10 of their siblings, friends, or even parents: What are the top two sources from which they have any understanding of the Vietnam War and era? Place a tally mark beside each response. Discuss the students’ findings as a class- which two sources came out on top?