We Were SoldiersMarch 1, 2002
The story of the first major battle of the American phase of the Vietnam War and the soldiers on both sides that fought it.
Release Year: 2002
Rating: 7.0/10 (55,456 voted)
Critic's Score: 65/100
Stars: Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe, Greg Kinnear
In a place soon to be known as The Valley of Death, in a football field-sized clearing called landing zone X-Ray, Lt. Colonel Hal Moore and 400 young troopers from the elite newly formed American 7th "Air" Cavalry, were surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers dug into the tunnel warren mountainside. The ensuing battle was one of the most savage in U.S. history and is portrayed here as the signal encounter between the American and North Vietnamese armies. We Were Soldiers Once… And Young is a tribute to the nobility of those men under fire, their common acts of uncommon valor, and their loyalty to and love for one another.
Writers: Harold G. Moore, Joseph L. Galloway
Lt. Col. Hal Moore
Maj. Bruce 'Snake' Crandall
Sgt. Maj. Basil Plumley
2nd Lt. Jack Geoghegan
Lt. Col. Nguyen Huu An
Sgt. Ernie Savage
1st Lt. Charlie Hastings
2nd Lt. Henry Herrick
Sp4 Robert Ouellette
Capt. Tony Nadal
Capt. Matt Dillon
Capt. Tom Metsker
400 U.S paratroopers. 4000 Vietnamese soldiers. 12 000 miles away from home. 1 man led them into battle.
Paramount Pictures Corp [United States] |
Release Date: 1 March 2002
Filming Locations: Castle Green Apartments – 99 S. Raymond, Pasadena, California, USA
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $20,212,543
(3 March 2002)
(4 July 2002)
Did You Know?
875,000 feet of film was shot – roughly 150 hours. It took the editing team 6 days – day and night – to watch it all.
In the second night of the battle there appears a full Moon, but in reality on 11/15/1965 the Moon was in the 3rd quarter.
[in French; subtitled]
Fucking heat. Fucking grass. Fucking country.
[a Vietnamese bullet suddenly hits him in the head]
A Vietnam Veteran Contemplates WE WERE Soldiers
I live with a Vietnam Vet who served in the late 1960s with 1st Cav.
Medivac. During service he earned two Purple Hearts, the Distinguished
Flying Cross, and the Air Medal. Since WE WERE SOLDIERS concerns the
1st Cav., Randy wanted to see it. I reluctantly agreed; I am not
partial to war films and I dislike Mel Gibson, and Randy is very hard
on Vietnam War films. He dismisses PLATOON as a Hollywood 8×10 glossy;
says APOCALYPSE NOW is an interesting movie that captures the paranoia,
but all the technical details are wrong; and describes DEER HUNTER as
excellent in its depiction of the strangeness of coming home but so
full of plot holes that he can hardly endure it. And about one and all
he says: "It wasn't like that."
He was silent through the film, and when we left the theatre I asked
what he thought. He said, "They finally got it. That's what it was
like. All the details are right. The actors were just like the men I
knew. They looked like that and they talked like that. And the army
wives too, they really were like that, at least every one I ever knew."
The he was silent for a long time. At last he said, "You remember the
scene where the guy tries to pick up a burn victim by the legs and all
the skin slides off? Something like that happened to me once. It was at
a helicopter crash. I went to pick him up and all the skin just slid
right off. It looked just like that, too. I've never told any one about
it." In most respects WE WERE SOLDIERS is a war movie plain and simple.
There are several moments when the film relates the war to the politics
and social movements that swirled about it, and the near destruction of
the 1st. Cav.'s 7th Battalion at Ia Drang clearly arises from the top
brass' foolish decision to send the 7th into an obvious ambush–but the
film is not so much interested in what was going on at home or at the
army's top as it is in what was actually occurring on the ground. And
in this it is extremely meticulous, detailed, and often horrifically
successful. Neither Randy nor I–nor any one in the theatre I could
see–was bored by or dismissive of the film. It grabs you and it grabs
you hard, and I can easily say that it is one of the finest war movies
I have ever seen, far superior to the likes of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN,
which seems quite tame in comparison.
Perhaps the single most impressive thing about the film is that it
never casts its characters in a heroic light; they are simply soldiers
who have been sent to do a job, and they do it knowing the risks, and
they do it well in spite of the odds. Mel Gibson, although I generally
despise him as both an actor and a human being, is very, very good as
commanding officer Hal Moore, and he is equaled by Sam Elliot, Greg
Kinnear, Chris Klein, and every other actor on the battlefield. The
supporting female cast, seen early in the film and in shorter scenes
showing the home front as the battle rages, is also particularly fine,
with Julie Moore able to convey in glance what most actresses could not
communicate in five pages of dialogue. The script, direction,
cinematography, and special effects are sharp, fast, and possess a "you
are there" quality that is very powerful.
I myself had a criticism; there were points in the film when I found
the use of a very modernistic, new-agey piece of music to be intrusive
and out of place. And we both felt that a scene near the end of the
movie, when a Vietnamese commander comments on the battle, to be
improbable and faintly absurd. But these are nit-picky quibbles. WE
WERE SOLDIERS is a damn fine movie. I'll give Randy, who served two
tours of duty in Vietnam, the last word: "It may not be 'the' Vietnam
movie. I don't think there could ever be 'the' Vietnam movie. But they
pretty much get everything right. That's how it looked and sounded, and
that's what I saw, and this is the best movie about Vietnam I've ever
seen." Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer