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directed by Peter Davis
USA 1974


A courageous and startling film, Peter Davis’s landmark documentary Hearts and Minds unflinchingly confronts the United States’ involvement in Vietnam. Using a wealth of sources—from interviews to newsreels to documentary footage of the conflict at home and abroad—Davis constructs a powerfully affecting portrait of the disastrous effects of war. Explosive, persuasive, and shocking, Hearts and Minds is an overwhelming emotional experience and the controversial winner of the 1974 Academy Award for Best Documentary.


Power is virtually the first word heard in Peter Davis's epic documentary, "Hearts and Minds," and power, real and mythical, is what the film contemplates in as many tones and moods as you might expect in superior fiction.

"Hearts and Minds," which opened yesterday at the Cinema 2, recalls this nation's agonizing involvement in Vietnam, something you may think you know all about, including the ending. But you don't. Just as television's presentation of the war made it seem small, orderly and comprehensible, to fit the physical dimensions of the television set and the programming schedules of the television industry, "Hearts and Minds" deals in disorderliness, contradictions and historical perspectives that are often shadowy, subject to any number of interpretations.

Excerpt of review from Vincent Canby located HERE


Theatrical Release: November 17th, 1975 (Sweden)

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DVD Review: The Criterion Collection (Spine # 156) - Region 0 - NTSC

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The Criterion Collection

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:51:52

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.91 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: The Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by director Peter Davis
• Accompanying booklet containing multiple printed essays on the film

DVD Release Date: June 25th, 2002
Keep Case

Chapters 13

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Just to fill in the gaps a bit, I thought that I'd tackle a few of our missing Criterion Collection titles over the next few weeks. I'll start off with Peter Davis's masterful Vietnam War documentary, "Hearts and Minds". While some have facilely dismissed the film as agitprop (and make no mistake, Davis is not neutral in his presentation, and no, that is not a bad thing), in doing so they miss out on one of the most informative documents of the war ever made. But, make no mistake, this is no dry academic lesson. Yes, we do get revealing interviews with Gen. Westmoreland and other predominant figures in the war, but we also get to see soldier patrolling jungle villages and even relaxing with prostitutes. Stateside we meet with veterans against the war and self styled patriots. For all this and more, it's a living document to one of the US's most complex eras.

While the image won a lot of deserved raves at the time of its initial release, it's unlikely to turn many heads today. While the film underwent a complete remastering, quality still varies from scene to scene (not surprising given the disparate conditions that it was filmed in). Although the IMDB says that the film was shot in 35 mm, I suspect that at least some of the scenes were recorded on 16 mm and blown up to 35., which would account for some scenes having an exaggerated grain structure. I obviously can't prove this, but if anyone knows, please let me hear from you. There are some instances of damage in the form of unrepaired cuts or nicks, but on the whole there isn't much to speak of. Colors aren't terribly vibrant, but I suspect that that's fairly close to how the film originally looked. Over all, I think that this is the best that the film could look given the conditions that it was originally made, and I for one won't complain any further.

As per Criterion policy of the day, the disc comes with a competent, but uninspiring English language Dolby Digital 1.0 track. There really are no problems to speak of (dialogue is clear, no background noises), but just don't expect to be wowed by it. Optional English subtitles are also included.

Extras wise, the disc comes with a commentary by Davis in which he details his intentions behind making it, the hazards of filming in certain environments, and some rather candid thoughts on the film's participants among other subjects. Also included is another one of their famous booklets with essays on the film. It's also worth noting that the when the release was originally announced, it was to include hours of unused footage. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, it was not included in the final release.

For anyone interested in post-WWII American history, this is an essential purchase. It's very highly recommended.


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Region 0 - NTSC


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