Episode 6 was graphic in a way that the episodes have not been graphic before. Just a warning for those with weak constitutions like me. I just saw my first on-camera death a few days ago when someone on Whatsapp sent me an image of a couple of convenience store clerks getting shot. It was the first time I’ve seen someone die. A snuff film, if you will. And now, I’ve seen it again in Episode 6. It’s strange too, first they’re showing it slowly, and they’re talking about what happens in advance. They stop before the actual death as the narrator who is telling the story in Vietnamese tells us what happens next as the man is shot in the head. I thought that was good, that they stopped the roll of the film, and just told us. But then they switch to a TV set showing the footage again, and they show the whole thing.
The rest of this episode was also extra graphic. During the Tet offensive, the images they show of dead North Vietnamese everywhere are really rough. Usually wearing white or black. Their shirts are completely red from blood.
After being in so many episodes, we finally get to see the battle stories of the black soldier who has been telling his story, and Erhardt as well. Erhardt’s story ends in a very interesting way, as he tells us he’s able to compartmentalize the killing, but not the sex act he performed.
The fighting in the city of Hue sounded particularly brutal, fighting house by house by house. It was also the site of a massacre that they got two North Vietnamese to admit to on camera, reluctantly.
It’s a tough episode to watch, but a good one I think. The first half of 1968 was pretty brutal.
After the episode, they re-aired an interview with Ken Burns and his co-director, and on the stage with them were two subjects from the documentary from the KC area, including John Musgrave. When he got a question from the audience about someone’s father who had refused to watch the doc, he said that the documentary had been eye opening for him, and he encouraged all his fellow veterans to watch it. He had watched all 18 hours, and he was beautiful in the way he recommended it. He seems much older now than even in the documentary, and in poor health. Sometimes I forget that they’ve been working on this documentary for 10 years now.