Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sir! No Sir! (2005)

Place posts here. Sir! No Sir! is a documentary by David Zeiger.

Group 2: By Tuesday morning, post a 3-400 word response on Berkeley in the Sixties, directed by Mark Kitchell.

Group 1: By Thursday at noon, post a 200 wordish response to something or things discussed by Group 1.


  1. Amanda DeRossett (Group 2):

    “Sir! No Sir!”, is a documentary film that was done in 2005 and directed by David Zeiger. This film is about members of the United States military during the Vietnam War that were apart of the anti-war movement. In the documentary, there are several interviews with many of the Vietnam Veterans that were against the Vietnam War. The men and women that were being interviewed explain their reasoning for speaking and acting against the United States government’s decision to continue to fight in Vietnam. The military anti-war movement ended up being called the G.I. Movement. It was the biggest and most successful movement during that time in American society. In the film, the audience learns why the G.I. movement started; the men and women against the war believed it was not our war to get into. The other reasons for being against the government’s decision to be in Vietnam was the murdering of innocent lives. Innocent men, women, and even children were killed by American soldiers all because of hate. The G.I. Movement started small, but grew very quickly to over 500,000 soldiers. One soldier in an interview discussed that he went as far as not wearing his dog tags, but instead wearing peace signs, because he did not want to be apart of all the hate. The soldiers who refused to go into combat, created “Fuck the Army”, which changed the military culture from then on. Jane Fonda, who is an American actress, had a big part in the anti-war movement. She spoke against the Vietnam War at many American military camps and G.I. anti-war rallies. Jane Fonda wasn’t the only celebrity speaking out against the United States government. There were several celebrities and regular citizens that did not agree with what was happening. Besides the interviews with the soldiers and the individuals against the war, there were scenes in the film that actually showed what was happening in Vietnam during the war. The scenes were very graphic, showing dead Vietnamese men, women, and children. There were scenes of bombs being dropped from U.S. aircrafts on villages, some evacuated and some not. One of the main reasons I enjoyed this film because it gave the audience truth behind what was going on in the military. It also explained to the audience that not all of the men involved in the Vietnam War were violent and hateful.

  2. From Geri B:

    "Sir! No Sir!" was a documentary produced & directed by David Zeiger and released in the year of 2005. Knowing that I have never been a history buff, I must say that I have learned a lot during this course. I never really knew much about the 1960's decade until now. SO far, each documentary has shown me something new. For this particular documentary I learned of the GI movement during the Vietnam War.
    I was aware that a lot of individuals during that time were against the war, but I hadn't the slightest clue that a pretty good amount of GIs were as well. The story of the rebellious soldiers had never actually been told in a film, until this one came along. According to the Pentagon's figures there were 503,926 "incidents of desertion" occurring between the years of 1966 and 1971. Another thing the film brought into perspective is the fact that officers were being "fragged." Fragged meaning being killed with fragmentation grenades by their own troops. Then, by the year of 1971, there were entire units who refused to battle. In the midst of all this, there were a little over a hundred "underground" newspapers being published by soldiers around the world and distributed to thousands. On top of those thousands, there were thousands more who demonstrated against the war at every major base in the world in 1970-71 (including Vietnam itself). There were federal prisons filling up with soldiers who opposed the war.
    "Sir! No Sir!" does an excellent job of portraying the soldiers who were actually apart of the movement and providing its audience with an insight of what really took place back in the day. This film sheds light on the soldier's defiance and their personal reasoning as to why they chose to be defiant. Overall, the film shows the mass amount of impact the movement had on the military and the war itself.

  3. From Shana K:

    So far in this class we have seen a lot of films that have shown us the reality of the 1960's. However, none of these have opened my eyes the way that Sir No Sir has. This film, which explains the GI anti-war movement, showed me how horrible and shocking the war in Vietnam was. We all knew it was bad but seeing this documentary made me see that it was more than just bad. It was horrifying. The fact that GI's thought that they were going over there to do something good for their country and then being tricked into taking innocent lives really shows the character of the United States government during this period in time. Another thing is the fact that these GI's couldnt do anything about what they were being forced into because of the fear of spending many years in jail. One of the scenes that got to me the most was when a Vietnam veteren was being interviewed. He stated that he was standing in line to get food when he found out that the Americans were harming innocent women and children. Thats one way to lose you apetite forever I think. Another scene that I found particularly upsetting was when the GI's were giving testimonies as to what happens over in Vietnam. It was horrible to hear the story of the GI cutting open an innocent woman as if it were a game of operation. Things like this make you wonder how our government officials at the time could lay their heads down and sleep at night. Sir No Sir showed a scary side of the war. These GI's were trapped in a world that they didnt want to be in and there was nothing that they could do about it. It also hurt to hear stories of how these veterens were treated so poorly upon their arrival home. They had no idea what they were getting themselves into when they went to war and they didnt know what they were going to have to do. they did not deserve the type of "welcome back" that they got.

  4. In response to Geri B,
    You are right I feel about there not being enough talk about what the solders felt about the war in films pertaining to the 60s. a lot of these feelings these soldiers had can be brought into perspective in our own time as well. There are a lot of enlisted men and women in our current military who were opposed to the Iraq war feeling that it was (and still is) an unnecessary war that we had and have no reason for being involved in. I think that we as citizens have a tendency to think that soldiers just do as they’re told blindly without questioning their authority figures. This documentary shows us that this is not always the case. Just because someone is enlisted in the military does not mean they are a warmonger, most get involved to protect our country and when they feel we are in something for the wrong reason, it seems to weigh heavier on them than those of us who are merely spectators to what they have to live through every day.

  5. Matthew P-

    Sir! No Sir! is a documentary written, directed, and produced by David Zeiger about the G.I. anti-war movement protesting the war in Vietnam. Many of the men being interviewed throughout the film were veterans returning home from the war that were speaking out about the horrific situation in Vietnam. This film really struck me because it was actually war veterans that was fueling the movement to end the war, and I kept thinking about another time where a war was so unpopular that it was protested in such a way. The film did an excellent job of bringing to surface the harsh truths of torture practices and the use of the “body count” to measure success in Vietnam, both facts that I knew before watching this film but could not imagine to what extent until after I saw it.
    One scene that struck me in particular was the testimonies of the G.I. veterans who were explaining about the way that they would dismember not only the enemy, but all citizens, women and children included, that they would come across. That really is something that made me think about what the policies and justification for such inhumane practices by the United States who is supposed to stand for something decent and true. It was also interesting to think about the men who wanted to serve their country in a way that was honorable and courageous. I kept thinking about these men who were fighting in Vietnam and witnessing this war firsthand and how it would be hard to commit oneself to such a cause.

    The film also was great at showing the interviews of the G.I. veterans at a time when the war in Iraq has been going on for a while. It makes you think about the other reasons the filmmaker would release such a film as a way to make a person think about another time in American history when acts of war might not have been justified.

  6. The late 1960’s were an obvious time of protest, not just in the United States, but in many other countries as well. Just about every documentary that we have watched in class has dealt with some sort of protest against the powers in control. One thing that has been protested in just about every documentary was the war in Vietnam. Obviously the war was found disfavoring by the United States public, but Sir, No Sir showed the side that mattered the most, the people being told to cause the destruction, the United States armed forces.
    After seeing multiple horrifying images from Vietnam all I could think about was seeing those images first hand and experiencing some of the most brutal human man slaughter to ever happen. There’s got to be a point where being patriotic and serving your country takes a back seat to being a human being. Donald Duncan realized this and even though he was a Green Beret one of the highest respected positions in the military he knew that what the government was doing was wrong and completely immoral. Judging your militaries success through body count makes our military seem no better than Nazi controlled Germany in World War Two.
    I’m sure that being considered A-Wall and sentenced time in prison was enough to keep some people in Vietnam but for the ones who were brave enough to stand up to the government, all that was waiting for them when they got home was a concrete cell with metal bars. The Gi anti-war movement gained momentum through coffee shops near military bases and through privately run newspapers. I believe this was the case because it was the only way that military men could protest the war without going to jail. The ultimate message being FTA for what they are doing to our soldiers.
    Seeing the lack of support from the military men was I’m sure discouraging for our government but it had to be done to stop them from destroying an entire country. This documentary along with the Weatherman Underground has furthered my distrust with the people in charge of the country we live in. When even the people who are supposed to be protecting this country feel the need to turn against it, you know something is wrong. I believe that Donald Duncan said it the best, “What’s the pride in saying that you’re a veteran if you were a veteran of something wrong.”

  7. From Jessica W:

    Sir No Sir.

    No soul wages war untouched. The Film shown in the previous class, Sir No Sir, gives a more personal look into how lives of vietnam war soldiers/veterans were effected. I found the ideal of active duty soldiers forming together to protest the war in such a broad range of ways to be explosively impressive. I have always held an anti-war stance, but advocated the idea of doing the right thing. I suppose I found this film so educational and enjoyable because the majority of the interviewees hold the same stance.
    Throughout the film, I found that the common theme of the majority of those soldiers shown was that they "had to do something." Whether it was the 1,200 active duty soldiers that signed a petition to keep a major naval warship at bay, the 1,400 signatures of soldiers overseas protesting the war that was shown in the New York Times, or all those involved who made it possible to have 300 anti-war newspapers printed and distributed around the nation; it was obvious that that idea "something" was being carried out. As with most of the films shown, this one left me with simply too many questions and ideas to pick just one to blog about. Although I do feel that the documentarian did an excellent job of highlighting important facts, (i.e. making the definition of "body count" written out in text) I also feel that he/she couldve done slightly better on giving the viewer background information on why exactly the U.S. decided to enter various parts of vietnam in the first place. But as shown in essitienally all other films viewed thus far into the semeste, once again, this film did impeccably point out that the U.S. government, gives far too much power to those politicians/authoritative members of the military mentioned.
    I do not think that it is our place to judge the value of a human life, nor do I think that no one soldier injured in battle really felt like the physical sacrifice he gave for his country was for a just cause. No one can say for sure what killing or war does to a man, but I myself know that I will never put myself in a position to find out.

  8. From Austin:

    Sir no Sir! to me is the most interesting documentary we have viewed so far this semester. I think this because it tells a side of the 60’s that is largely unknown of, that of the anti-war movement amongst the military. When you think of the anti-war movement in the 60’s you immediately think of Woodstock and protestors and The Weathermen, you never even consider the actual soldiers who are out there fighting in the war. The veterans in the film told shocking firsthand accounts of their experiences overseas, such as refusing orders and even “fragging” their leaders when they didn’t want to do something. I agree with Shana in that these men had no idea what they were getting into and actually deserved a better welcome back when they arrived home. Many Americans saw the G.I. as the problem in Vietnam, stories of rape and senseless killings did not make this view any better, but although there are some cases of this many soldiers were ordered to do the killings, and from fear of being sent to jail they obeyed.

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  10. It was a very interesting document as it reminds me how real and awful that Vietnam War was … It was all about political agenda and a war that was truly a cold war between the U.S and Russia and China. Chinese and Russians supported the communist china while Western Europe and the United States were trying to eradicate communism. It was a war of ideology and a war that had financial interest about the west looking at possible Economic development that could have lead out of this war. It was a geopolitical war as well as western country wanted a stronger grip on Asia for the future. That is on the political spectrum.
    The movie really shocks me when I saw the carpet bombing and HOW MANY bombs were drop from these planes. I mean to visualize it like that really frightens me and remind me how EUGLY war is.
    I think that it was a GENOCIDE and that it is hypocritical to point fingers about genocide while Vietnam War AND the 2 atomic bomb drop on japan were both a form of GENOCIDE. The difference is that when it’s a nation powerful such as the United States of America or a powerful western European nation then we don’t call it a genocide but instead a mass casualty .
    It was outrageous to see all these woman and children’s body burned on the floor in these Vietnam villages. There were rape and tortures and sickening things that we cannot even conceive in our way of thinking since we have never seen that big of evil act in our every day “Joe blow” life here.
    It was awesome how all the GI organized themselves to try to influence in stopping that war.
    These era really show that we have people in this country ready to fight for what’s right even if it means ruining their own life in the process, like that guy that was at Harvard doing very well then drop out then join the GI antiwar movement and then was blacklisted . Sacrifice in civil rights of many courageous Americans will be worth it in the long run.