« WTF with Marc Maron Podcast

Episode 845 - Ken Burns & Lynn Novick

2017-09-10 | 🔗
Ken Burns and his frequent collaborator Lynn Novick have made indelible documentaries about American life, on subjects like jazz, baseball, the Civil War, and World War II. Their latest film is a ten-part examination of the Vietnam War, and Marc talks with them about the bold storytelling choices used in the film, the decade-long process that went into making an 18-hour documentary, and the lessons learned that show we are still living in an America defined by this specific war.

Our GDPR privacy policy was updated on August 8, 2022. Visit acast.com/privacy for more information.

Sign up here for WTF+ to get the full show archives and weekly bonus material! https://plus.acast.com/s/wtf-with-marc-maron-podcast.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
All right. Let's do this: how are you what the fuckers, what the fuck buddies, what the fuck an ear is what the fuck makes what's happening, a mark marin. This is my podcast w tia, welcome to it, how's it going what's happening: hey Florida, people, in south florida and all over the south. I hope I hope you're okay, I'm recording this on sunday, I know things are getting gnarly and shitty and bad. I just hope I hope you guys get through it. I don't know what I can do or what I can say, but my thoughts are with you and my mother's down there and I've been The text- or I don't know where what exactly is happening, but I hope, I hope, mom's, okay, I'll, be okay, mommy. I could probably do this on the phone today on the show
ken burns and lynn Novick? They co directed new documentary, the vietnam war that premieres on pbs next Sunday september, seventeenth, it's I think it's like. parts that watched all of them I'll get into that a little bit cause it definitely my fucking mind up there. for sure it is just inspiring this documentary I gotta he's done, humanity for that are mine blowing. But this is This is nuanced in a way and the depth of it is pretty astounding. So so that's coming up in I did also want to mention that the release of waiting for the punches upon us folks, it's one, the way october, tenth so Pre order, your copy now at wtf, podcast, cam or MARC Maron book dot com and upload your receipt on the pre order to get a book. signed by me, I'm in sydney.
the dining room table sign in the book. Whites through I've been doing Again also, I want to thank everybody for the treatment his reaction in response to my special I'm proud of it. I'm glad you guys are enjoying it. I I put a lifetime's worth of work and experience into that special on netflix that you can watch now to real. If you haven't watched my comedy special to real under on the netflix Oh, I guess I guess we're those of you who like to keep up with my life. I should dumb. I should tell you what's going on in my life, it's been a pretty exciting weekend this last weekend Sarah the painter I was, The big opening downtown here at the new los Angeles institute of contemporary art. down there on seventh street across the greyhound station, theirs beautiful new museum that this is, first time ever, if not in decades or years, where anything occur.
from the greyhound station is a good thing: hey- I would imagine any time said meet me anywhere across the greyhound station is not a good thing unless you're just being picked up, but But this is right across from the bus station down there and she's got a big work on right there on the wall, upon the scissors who have paid missing man, so big thing works and the show that there's another installation inside the show there that's aires is is great. The spaces is So if you're in the la area- and you want to see it Beautiful new space for the at that go down to that LA institute content we are, but make sure you notice, as you walk into the left, the astounding and magnificent painting that is there on that wall. It's not just a painting
other elements involved there? I weren't, you know this summer. Some deep abstraction folks is the big she had the big work that says that in her does so so that what that we want to the opening of that and I I I enjoyed the museum and I won't I liked to working at the art people and I've been. I met the artists, not my world feel little a little intimidated by it all by by that. But now feeling a little intimidated by everything, because I no longer have my buffer. I no longer have my nicotine and now that you know the gaping hole is just open its open and it wants drag me into it. The wheel, what kind of vulnerability and insecurity and second guessing that happens when you go of the thing that protected you from yourself at mentally that that the thing that wall that that you could feed. Between you and your fear, Ah, this,
with this warm blanket of nicotine over my heart and mind gone and yeah in the caffeine is just key caffeine, which is nauseating and kind of flat lines, me gives you a nice park, nice level and I sort of a hum but it doesn't give you the man. My brain is turned inside out I'm dealing art so here's some exciting. Here's some exciting news I Do you know how much I love randy newman and I told you I wanted to hang out with Randy newman. It was awkward cuz. I don't know. How is that? Don't do that, don't reach out by reached out to his manager and she in his ear or anyways, I guess ye male few days, from her. Do you do to come to this benefit, Randy's playing at a benefit for the silverlake concern, toy of music and I'm like that sounds great knew nothing about any of it, but I knew I was get to see. and he play, small event which has
excited about it may be hanging out with a little bit gray. I said yes and I would like to go and wherein, day, before the event at a nowhere, I get a call from flea from the red hot chili now, I'm not dropping names ride. I've never die, don't that I've never talked to flee other than when he was in here. I don't know what was happening. He asked me if I wanted to host that benefit, and then I looked it all up and put it all together, it's his conservatory, it's the thing. He started to teach kids in the community and bring. It's a musical education here in silverlake and and this was the benefit for the school and its fleas thing, and he and I go I want going to be there anyways, and he didn't know that. But I glad to help out for the kids in and be part of it. So I went to the thing which is great: the school was great, the silverware conservatories,
beautiful facility, and they do a great thing over there for for kids and music, but I get there I'm sitting in randy's table with Sarah and like of four of randy's kids in their as significant others and a freezer Owen Wilson is there and I met, Keaton son, who came out to me and said that he liked my interview with his dad. It was all very you know it's just. It's it's a whole other world man, my between the chili peppers, his wife and so the the the act, the the actual war, they did a chamber music thing with the kids and then I brought on the red hot chili peppers, there is maybe three hundred people facing, maybe maybe for maybe it was announced acting in a tense situation. Nice we done- and I bet them up. I know it. I said this is excite ram, never seen these guys perform. Lebanon seem like I was I to tables up from the stage and they were great. They fucking
bring it, and then there are some things a little this and that video some other stuff. Then goes up and just sits at that does a half hour, some best songs, did marie. He did shore people the birmingham he did sail away. He daddy can can your hat on. He did. a friend in me and then at the end for his final number, he said mary. One may play this on any played guilty. Are you the greatest song ever written right there in front of me and how I cried a little bit as I do. Every time I hear that really an amazing experience for me all around to see him hang out with him. And watch him play those songs, those songs he d political science and then he saw Putin about putin, great and then anderson pack was the last act. Who I didn't know.
I have to do all this research on everybody. I didn't have to do anything. I did like five minutes up front and I did a couple of except we're probably will too cynical for the event. through John mare, under the best for no real reason, because he that one of the things you get it the auction. Was it a guitar lesson with John mayer, and I said well that that could go either way that experience depending on how you, how you look at that guy for the hour you'll, be spending with him in the room anyways, fuck up one thing: I brought up anderson pack as andrew pack and some guy it me I get to Anderson and I'm like. Oh no am I that old guy am I the old guy that can't get the new music, sensations name right, Will you see me do it on this shy? Guy guess I am that guy. That was the one bit of embarrassment I experienced. The entire night is andrew. back in the free nationals. Cheer andrew pack bring them up,
kit andrew. There was a great event, so the vietnam war, the documentary ken burns, lynn, Novick, co directors It's going to bring you through the war look I'll admit my ignorance blind sides. Most of them I knew the raw that war was a disaster and wrong, and changed a lot of things culturally, but I'd in, and I have images of it in my head from when I was a kid but I knew no, I really did not know the history of it. I really didn't and the end the amazing thing about this documentary You see our america become disenfranchised with the government with the war effort with where you know. Culture was going with transparency, everything the it's battle lines that were drawn then are the ones that are still.
Rising this country now, in a lot of ways and the fascinating thing about this, this documentary is you get. The full backdrop to what happened to this country and vietnam. You know during that war from all angles. They talk to american that's: they talked to american military personnel. They talked to american officials from the time they talked to vets from from all sides. Terms of how they feel about the postwar war, dell without war. They talk about the anti war movement about raising the war about about a year the disk this sort of disillusionment that happen over time, the strategies, but they also talk to the other side. They too to the south. It needs they talk to us in these army. They talked in north enemies, army, they talk to of the com, and alan, sir, all out she really get both sides of the same which it is really astounding and its it's. It's really is a masterpiece of documentary
it's. It's heartbreaking and it's mind blowing and it's historically important It'll give a lot of things context in terms of what happened in america to sort of didn't major shift from whatever the fifties was or when whatever pretend to be to where we are now and a lot of it hinges on vietnam, so is real. Honor to talk to her can burn who in november, and I will share that converse- with you now the vietnam premiers on dot pbs next Sunday September 17th in lock in because only worth it. So this is me ken burns and lynn Novick. So how long a keg? Let's go, let's go! Let's get some facts store. You guys have been working together for years. society, namely nine, and
and in different capacities when you've you've done stuff with him yeah. I I started off the luckiest day of my life probably was getting hired to be associate producer when KEN and his team were finishing the civil war series, so they had, they had basically almost locked the film, but they needed someone to help because somebody quitting sort of toward the end of the project. So I got to fill in for her and I thought I was being hired for six months to help finish up this project and now to lifetime. Here we are again, so I can very generously gave me the opportunity to produce the baseball series. Oh yeah, and so that in our first real clever and what what? What's your background? What comes? How do you come to documentarian or documentary? Well, I have no professional training. Any of that. Many of us have a little better, none but
makin cities in college and didn't history in photography and film that'll were added. Other additives account on Alice, yeah, exactly and then learn. By doing you know it's really and have been an apprenticeship actually to see how the work is done and then to figure out what you can bring to its ear over time. It sort of evolved into correcting and mechanisms. I gather it's been amazing, it's sort of what it seems like it's a calling and and some sort of there's a lot of social responsibility in it. Now, in terms of like that, they're important. I mean that's the one thing about documentaries, as that like way before what what's happening now happened where I actually do a joke on stage how about documentaries just cause you have an ipod and your cat is sick, doesn't make you tour. It sort of a hail mary pass. Yet we are some people. Storytelling is really complicated thing, so, even when we're making it there's no sense of the larger picture of it, because it is so hard to tell a good story. All of those people
if the iphones become grist for our mill, the people, the photographs become grist for our mill, but you know we content. Great so heavily on just the task at hand which is not only additive, as you would assume making thing is vr is subtractive because you're you're, starting off this huge big gigantic, you know amount in know, twenty, right working times, righty times the amount of the finished product, trying to whittle away at it in some way a bite, but at least with like with some documentaries. You know if it's a story about individuals or an event, one and then what you're dealing with is the emotional components of the moral components that are supposed to be left as a cliffhanger at the end, you to be the decider yeah you usually, it seems deal with your life. Swaths of his work on merit, so you know you do have giving in an end. I bet you were going to talk about the vietnam documentary not want spoil We we lost so
I don't want anyone to get weird about it, but think documentaries, you you can't. Really get weird about it. When it's a historical document, that's right and you can't You are absolutely art burned by you, know the the the goalposts posts of the experience, but at the same time, history, which we think is fixed is is really malleable, and it depends on what age you it's over the vietnam film, if we'd made in aid. fyi when america, in a recession when japan was ascended, would be this ball and chain. This dark cloud hovering over forever We made it ten years later in ninety five when and where the sole superpower, our economies to vietnam, important. But it wouldn't be some sort of big existential drag ten years after that in the leave nine hundred eleven in iraq and afghanistan, new colors. So what? and says you wanting realised the extent to which, where you are now really influence.
how you see the kind of questions you ask and who's asking the questions, so these are all involved and, and it turns out that the past is pretty malleable and good history, meaning that is to say the narrative distillation of what actually took place, write a story telling in his. You want people to feel like you stick around because it might not turn out the way you know it did so you go to the scene. ford's theatre, maybe the gun will jam this time. Sure you know maybe he'll turn change his mind. Maybe I'll miss you and you know it not going to happen, but but the idea would be that you have been brought to this moment with the sense of not the in ever debility that we know that time and story has told us took place right That's a nice dissonance from what you think, which is out of my colleagues who were dealing with a contemporary sort of hydrogen issues
which are evanescent and disappear after that is less important sort of see. What we do is kind of convenient, big and unlucky, because we do have the beginning middle and then for us it's not like that, and what you want is the that of things to say be met by over up moments with people and events and facts that then themselves give you a sense that the thing is happening now that you know father said history is not, was is. It would mean that you could feel like it was now is the we want you to actually feel the tet, offensive not sort of reflect on it from the safety and of oh, I understood that it was militarily a defeat for at the north and the calling. But in fact it was a public relations disaster. We just want you to go oh, my god, make it stop. Why did you not fifty three and you I watched all of it, and you know it
had some very easy to be honest if I'm really going to cop to it watching it. I mean I knew nothing yeah. I knew it was bad and I knew it define culture, and I knew a lot of you know what I thought was cool. When I was very young kid we had gravitated toward so I'm born in sixty three. So by sixty nine seeing things by seventy two I dress like a hippie, so, like In eight, we I knew where I was headed, but not know that the history was very visceral in very present and, I think, the idea of malleability of history is that it is it's all relative, Is that right exactly correct? So wait, what I notice right away in this documentary. Is you all almost give equal time to to The north korean amused army, the vietcong, the? U S, military the south vietnamese army, the that were at an executive level within the government like it's very
balance and it was a little jarring initially to be like so you have that moment were glad that you felt that way. how they, the most startling praise topman you can pay to us. I have sadly where we started out to do was to feel, but we hoped we could do was to shed light on this by looking out from every possible angle, we could collect and it was interesting how available and how the people that you know the viet cong. how they had aged in and over time. Have you acquired some sort of perspective damn and survived and end. The way played out was the way a played out, but these are older people I reflecting on something. But don't you like the fact, though, that the that the visa conquer the envy a regular soldiers sound a lot like our marine offshoring guys and that the experience of war has both a uniqueness and a commonality. The terror, must be the same. The the effects of that terror must hold down in certain societal pressures, might make it easier to express or less easy to express for whatever psychologically positive way. But when one one
viet cong guy looks through the bush and sees americans crying over the dead and said boy. They have the same humanity I hadn't realized. They have the same humanity as we viet cong yeah. That was a stunning moment. The vietnamese I mean it's a stunning moment because that's what it is, what you want to do is create an if the in which more than one truth can obtain, because the way we live particularly today is to decide like good, bad right, its binary one, zero lit I'll lose two. It's completely childish and theirs the thing in life that suggests that things are so. so clear, and so what you want to create is environment in which, whatever pre and you come in- may be zero honestly about vietnam, but it's there and you ve got you know you background, and you know what you think, but you want that to be kind of neutralized by a combination of perspectives that some of which you don't describe two, but you realize that if you extend to them the courtesy of listening of your attention and it matches with other
if all of a sudden you're receptive to a bigger story. So, as you see, we unpack the story vietnam, and then we repack it sort of hopefully liberating as it did us as we made it liberating us from the preconceptions? Hopefully, liberating audience from preconcert right ain't in in a definitely didn't. I was approaching it with a sort of a sort of a certain amount of shameful aid neurons in this sense and we love that. There's no shame in that, though he is honest in one of the reasons why we set about to do. This is because we think it's say that americans don't know much just as a country, we don't know much of. We don't talk about it in an informed way, and there's are good reasons for that so traumatic and painful and sort of unsettle to our sense of who we are as a country that it's just hard to talk about, and people avoid talking about it and avoid teaching at and avoid.
were basically the same age and I never studied it anymore in school. We I know anything about. It will only does internet kids, you know I'm sixty four. I live through this. I thought I live in an over michigan. I thought I knew everything about the vietnam war and and day one for the next ten years was a kind of humbling. You know of of you didn't know when and why. I started this guy when we started this dog, you send ears in the making we, working on isn't actually a little bit longer at the aunt we linen, and I made a film on world war, two called the war in which we had followed the entire greatest cataclysm through the exp grievances in the eyes of people in for jeering. I found those tribute old dudes talk about it and they were at the end of their life, and I think part of that was the sense of how lucky we were as that they were just going out the door and we didn't want them to go before they told story, but it was all so all of the stuff that war turned up for us, as it always has, as it did before, the civil war.
I know many years before that we just said we just. I just turned a line at the end of two thousand success that we do vietnam, and with this our film on world war, was now until the fall of two thousand and seven, but we've been kind of plow going towards that ever see. Not that we haven't done other films, but this is been the gigantic man, truck rolling down our consciousness waking us up at night. Making us worry more, You know, having lived through it a you know what what was your wife, like them. Where were you how I was even sixty five again sixty five, I was twelve, we are living in an upper michigan. My other was led. You picked sixty five Sixty five is when Johnson ordered a ground troops on the ground march of sixty five. I was eleven almost twelve, the first one of the first teachings took place. at the university of Michigan. It was one of the departments that was involved in it centrally was the anthropology department. My father was an anthropologist in the film you see
a guy speaking to the- full channel seven reporter- and I spent a long time going. I think that's one of my dad's colleagues and it turned out to be our best friends, our families, friends and wool. Yes, my father's colleague, eirik wolf distinguish anthropology. Here we were unwilling to court, he was over and forest. We could cut through one house and be there. You know very well, parts of my life I spent at the wolf haven't there. He was- and I learned this just within the law- ass few years of a ten year project, but went by as it were, you're old. You don't really know the full range, but so by seventy years, seventeen and I know ring about getting draft agenda and the world in the country's coming on unhinge. Yet completely in and an arbour weena. We had some stuff symbiotic heavy duty stuff and I still The memory of a police baton at the back of my head, and I had hair down you know
I think he had brothers and sisters. I had a younger brother, rick who's of documentary filmmaker and we are all trying to get through my dad by mama died of of the month after the teaching, and so the three It's weird you're trying to negotiate both the loss, but the sixties and being in ann arbor and music. I mean when you're talking about all the cultural influences. You know that villa I'm spawned. It also was in in turn influenced by those things are not just right that we think of but civil rights and and women's rights and environmental stuff. All of that sort of playing. It was incredibly to mulch incredibly exciting. I can't think of a better place. To be growing up with a small town with a big university right What's the one thing I realized when I was watching, is that the timing is very interesting because the sort of them loss of innocence that the country in reaction to that war and how that reorganized, american culture is exactly the it's there.
Do. You know that it's eighty there's a moment where you think, like it's almost like well Nixon majority is now in charge. S rights I can and they're not they've, always been there to one degree or another. That's right and, and the one thing that I found sort of encouraging in short of a dark way. Was that that the country really felt at that time the time the way you captured anyways and it was visceral that it was come unglued? Yes, that you felt like you know it was going to something was going to collapse yes and any no. We we felt that the sea of the disunion that we experienced today, though, the rancor and the alien nation and ie, and they in order your whole relation that took place our work. The siege were planted in vietnam right if we were to spool all of this and just say: well, why don't we give you our spiel
If we told you, we had been working for ten years about a film about mass demonstrations taking place all across the country protesting the current, strain that you had a white house obsessed with Lee in so much disarray. A president railing almost daily about the the media and they're, making up stories about a sum, trickle warfare that the military can't really deal with it. A bit big document drop of classified material into the public sphere, its changing, and stabilizing what we understand about stuff and accusations that at a political campaign reached out to a foreign power at the time of a national election to influence that allowed. That bit of business was like eighty seven known. Is that a well known that, if this is not our it's? What it's getting well known? Now, but it is an initial, so I think, beginning to change the sort of conventional wisdom about Nixon too, because we have really really.
a negative reactions about Nixon and really certain positive things that he did and this bends at all. Why mean that moment? Where? Where were you have that those those tapes of of Johnson the direction and talk in there and then talking in excess reason, treason he says, did as treason, but he made a choice not to bring attention to it and yet because a political reasons in the end, what we're talking about where it where it was not letting on. Is that your nixon reached out to the south vietnamese government correct Yesterday you mind, look Johnson's back with then president in the nineteen. Sixty eight election was a very very close election year and Johnson head at the very last minute gone this alfie. It needs to agree to go to peace talks with the north, the enemies, and this was in no the hope to hear after he was. The democratic candidate was quite embattled because the war was so unpopular and he had not really distance himself, Johnson, and so at this moment, when there's a chance that there could be peace, talks, humphrey starts going up in the past.
yeah, it's a very tight election year and then a few for the election, the south vietnamese governments say we're not going the peace talks and in a why not, we're not going to go, and then Nixon winning by a tiny, tiny, marge, seven tenth of one percent rowdy. Three point four to forty two point: seven and remember: there's desperation on the next campaign, because when the demo at a convention is finished, he's got us the seemingly insurmountable lead over humphrey and that, just and and what the piece the positive progress in the peace talks said. asked it was at humphrey would overtake them. So there's all sorts of theories about why the johnson didn't want to reveal the sources that humphrey himself said nominal, I went to win legitimately, not by calling a foul at this point- lots of very interesting things, but it's only now coming at me when we first wrote our scene several years ago, yeah we felt we were sort of us like a just a little bit ahead of stuff and that we were worried that maybe we'd said too much, but a couple of
biographies have not only confirmed but gone ahead and said that it wasn't just that campaign, as we said, but Nixon himself who had initiated in and begun the the sort of cut deal he he. no. He had his people suggest to the south vietnamese that, if he got elected would be tougher on annoying. They would. You know they would be supported more the Democrats, You know, southern down the river, that kind of thing and dumb you know who knows, but essentially you said: they're not going to go to the peace talks and they waited many many weeks and then many many years after is there rumors about this lots of rumors, but never really clear evidence until relatively recently, so it it, as can, We have had to modulate as and that's going on, the of the film that new scholarship came out on many things as in working on it for ten years for ten years. I do not come out for regiments three regiments of radio coming down the trail that month, and we just one
to get it right. I mean we, we watch you open up the film and change it or the the the amazing thing was is that in watching it, I'm like we're going to go through every battle, just about that you know you pick these, the imagine what we're we're in and that conflicts or or battles but yeah of the ones that you picked and how you characterize them over the years. You know really painted a picture of what war, there was like your previous to them ass of bombing, which was like this horrendous hale married. What you have as the opportunity, particularly in some early battles like at back and been job to sort of triangulate. We, you. Ve got me most of the time. The american experience with the enemy was, with the exception of big things like tat and later you no other stuff were, were skirmishes air, and things like that enemies choosing. But in a few instances got a vietcong guy. Talking about the attack here and he's on one side of the hedgerow that that are
organ guy and our marine adviser are talking about, and that to me is if your curious about warfare and is the worst thing human beings do but lots of more stuff than just saying bad come out of it. It's it's exhilarating to have that kind of perspective on a on a particular moment. The eye kind of warfare which which really. It even with the the way guerrilla tactics work in Iraq or afghanistan. There's there has not been anything like vietnam and a right yeah. I mean one of the things that the the enemy was very adaptable year, so they learned pretty quickly how to fight this enormous army with the air power and the artillery that we had. They didn't have that
will they innuendo landscape. They were committee. I worked at all ages, there was a high nationalistic fervour and responsibility and it was a repressive communist regime. That sort of we know you're gonna go it's just one thing, and so the that you know the messengers of democracy, particularly a corrupt democracy, annesley, heavy handed one. That's that's lending aid is that you've got lots of spain for all sorts of different things, and also the south in these government I did not know was- was perpetually corrupt and completely unstable. Almost at all times But you know when you start a project like this, you know So you know that you have the history and you're going to have to do about france and the occupation. In colonies, colonization and in all that business too. We set the stage, but you know Where do you start for any of the things you do because you're not making a two hour movie that you're going to tie up your like your
we've got a committed nice chunk of their life to this yeah and end starting is the missed hard when I desire to do this in nineteen sixty seven, due in two thousand and six when you're a finishing our film unwell were too and then it ain't in others, sort of setting the table and getting some funding to begin shooting in thinking in organizing and grant writing annoying. As I was alive right does he have a liar singly down, find out where the people are in the leads both serendipitous and otherwise. We are, unfortunately not what does she and is is alive? Yes, in his he's quite found Actually, then interview must the interviews were shot in two thousand and ten eleven twelve, so we're very lucky that we got the interview with him when we did because he's got parkinson's and he's really not so well. At the moment, Subaru and several people have passed away. Seven one of the first things we do is think. Okay, you know the actuarial tables. If
over eighty five and you to find you right away right, so you re better right, so we found a guy. The first interview shot was a man who was in the us us in world war two and went to I got an and forty five and serve try what's happening after world war, two ended and he ended up going to hanoi meeting ho man and he was in his late eighties. While so he's actually still a little alignment. We saw him a few earlier this week, somewhere very happy that george weeks will be able to see the film it comes out, but we really start with older people and the regular diet into. That is fortunate, because you know, if you just had words and pictures to to attach this, to no american intelligence world war. Two intelligentsia things added predated yo are even sincere at all raised to sort of like incorporated into the well. You know what we had in the first episode: Kadijah vous, because the french experiences so much like what would happened to the americans that it also permitted as an opportunity to as the french experience sort of
lead in the late forties and early fifties. Desertion. The head too? decade ahead or a decade and a half ahead to an american experience. It precisely that that yeah uninjured avian flu, but that's all I had the extra added benefit of giving us all somebody to care about americans that are gonna, then populate. The rest of the nine episodes is we're doing the geo political or they'll story is able re, yet it the choice to use em hold out. I want to make sure I get names right, John it's greyhound, we knew you were going to say and and the the story of of mohit crocker. Yes, you know those two stories I e in what was very eat, the huh melody of hindsight with even the most hawkish people that you talk to was was. found that that it it was almost. It seemed like there was a period of time that I think you talked about it and how this war seen culturally and historically that once you talk to the guys who were involved in it in the women who are involved in it in a way
I find is that you know it was horrible on both sides. There was, true respect and and there is a shame to it all they had to be opened and survival. Sadly, I mean you know over the accumulation of the ten years of working on this film and trying to understand what happened, which was no small task for us and everyone that we worked with. You know we the wall many times. So you know you see, seen the eight thousand names and you think about every single family represented by those names. And what does that mean? We only told a few of those stories in the film, and that was enough, but then go to vietnam, anomaly, think about three million died and they have two thousand missing, and you know it's exponentially more tragic for them It is for us- and it's not like there's a contest, but you begin to kind of accumulate the weight of loss and grief and how people, with that and manage it. How societies live with that? Our countries over that have families individual in the chaos, because this was really a territorial war. This was not. You know when we got that
tree with how this line so him so Musgrave says that in our fifth episode is at war is real estate business, meaning you take dare to rise, as you do not like to get wounded. A second time round a hill you ve already taken, and that is why of the aspects that makes the vietnam for the american strategy. such a disaster in india will gaunt were falling back into history again, but that the fact that they knew the pretty bree clearly that it was unwinnable in the mid 60s. It is just dead information is in the end, it ended to sort of concede to the fact that that what the only way to make it look like we're. Winning is to have a bigger body count on their side exactly and even a decade before, to know that we had an intimate relationship hoped she men and that it was the cold war and it sir Manichaean dynamic is how cushion or says in the film of just good and bad that sort of places ho chi minh, a sympathetic figure who declares independence
citing thomas jefferson and is in the proximity it was officers send him over to the other guy, the bad side, and loud us inevitably towards this tragedy that first, the french press I do a dress rehearsal for us. Wasn't a dress rehearsal for them. It was real bad stuff, but their need for that territory was almost completely economic. Now, yes, that was it. I mean this is the difference between a proxy war fought over the larger ideologies in lieu of world war, three, which I think everybody would agree, would not the the the the pleasant alter china, russia, america yeah. So you have the proxy war so before with the french are involved in is the desperation of holding onto a dead forum, which is the colony yeah. The the fact that they've gone in there for a whole bunch of reasons and added that sort of bullshit You know civilizing thing that we're going to bring our religion and our culture. I have a source stuff and of course the vietnamese, like all people, say, look, we've got our own. Culture probably is longer than yours and
We wanted determine who we are and this was president wilson, as well as president roosevelt sort of desire, and you begin to feel you know just the tightening of an incredibly tragic there's, no other word, it's just a tragic news that is tightened on all of this. How did you track? Unlike you know, when you make the list of people that you want to involve in this in to see if they're still alive, how do you We like those names. What are your sources? Obviously, american journalists, american soldiers, you know some south vietnam, it's. You know when you get into the into the the weeds. You who's alive in the vc who's alive from the north vietnamese army? You know I imagine some of them are still in power and to some degree or no, yeah. Well, I got to make ships idiot non vietnam to try to figure all that out actually could not really possible to do that from here and we had a lot of help with a wonderful vietnamese producer that we worked with.
pretty well connected in military circles. Hans so Explain to him, for example, can was talking about a battle where we see from all sides. We had found it american advisor marine adviser, south vietnamese marine you're in a battle? So we wanted to find a the who was in that same battle and he went to local veterans organizations and talk to people and found some people that he while so he he did. A lot of the leg work is name is whole jaguar and our film the summit as without his incredible like work and also even once you know, I got to be a non working closely with him, to have him help explain to people who we were they weren't too familiar with our work or television thing like that, so you know what is it still about? What are we looking for, because in vietnam, the ordinary soldiers don't normally have a voice like that right, so they don't get asked. What was the war like for? You ever see, americans, you know what was who who was Indeed, what happened to your family. These are not questions that are normally discuss. They have sort of a pretty
plastic national narrative about the war and only to find that they put a bind them we want and that the forty much right. So you know that we're open to sharing their stories, because I think they wanted the I don't think I know it is what they said, that they want their children branches to understand the truth of the war. How terrible it was what they sacrifice: the action, nature of the sacrifice, not the sort of loveless myth of the hour, and so really you know once we set, the cameron we had to have someone translate for us all I took my own. What asking it was pretty intense, the thing that they were as open to communicate, not just to us, but to their own children and grandchildren to their fellow citizens to the american people
but this war really meant and what they gave up and what they gained and dumb, and so many women involved on the amount of revenue. You write that political thing. I think for them that windows- and you know total war, people's wars or everybody had to get involved in children got involved, which is obviously for our soldiers very complicated, because how can you tell whose a civilian and whose an enemy able children I'm looking for mines and all that kind of stuff? But there was a tremendous amount of. and that and young women sometimes took up arms. They were scouts and kind of helping out. There was also a whole core of people. This we had, I mean we didn't understand this at all. The ho chi minh trail character in the film it's a character in the war to keep that conduit open
and had remember it's not a single road is not like you know the one or one it's like a braided thing that goes in many different directions in and by the cover of night there there rarely bringing in heavy artillery arroyo jelly moved in through from russia and china right and we couldn't flat. Knight said this is a huge tactical, our strategic problem for our air force that we couldn't flat night. So they knew that slovenia, this isn't the enemies in saying there waiting to get bombed and they sent you know loads all the trucks down there and they had women repairing the bomb damage that during the day we would bomb and they would have the tens of thousands of teenagers girls out there the bomb craters until they get bombed again? It was an epic undertaking, probably essential to how they won the war. So we was a we interview, the pilot is doing the bombing of the strafe and he end do. Our editing room is extrinsic episode. He's spent his entire career in the military, and retired. As the head of the air force, gen merrill mcpeak and he had no idea
we'd already intervene. Laming quay and and knew it. I knew who were the two of the women that were down there, and it blew his mind because he had already stated on film that he would have been proud to serve with these. People want to just sort of said his military mindset and his perhaps- and I don't is pejorative a kind of chauvinist male mindset about who the combatants are into a an amazing disconnection, and so that's what this war did it just ended all of the various things that you think would happen. We more bombs on the louse portion of the hoodie men trail, which is this elaborate near a labyrinth than we do in germany and japan much more and I m o. So once you get your the people and you start engaging in that right
it's not really like we can. We can sort out with a less morally right over time. Like several years. There are three years we gradually find one person like hands had leads to another and in there I knows yes in pretty much you do you interview, you know a journalist who said we should talk to him guy, and in this guy says this guy you, you follow that trail, but here's the thing I've like doing journalism, really what I'd like to liberate you from sequential production. That is to say, you begin here, and you do this and you do this, you you, you research, you write I'll, take any liberation, you cannot shoot and you and then you do post production on any barbara. We He never stop researching and we never stop. Writing and we essentially never sup shooting here. Even though editing is the single largest component of our production thing, just get it out of you
so you ve, adding to the mound of oils, interviewers fact in two or saying waiter, low, phemius, you're, not subtracting or you're doing monroe we may be. We may have found out that we done an interview with me. We were halfway through we met a woman who is born in hawaii at war. In the north, what was would become the north had lie because her father was a french know. She's alive and she's in every episode is longer on my elliot and she's an amazing story, but we're sitting there. Her husband is one of the consultants she's one of the consultants and were having a debriefing after an episode one and she starts talking and everything she says, I are furiously, writing down and, finally by the end of episodes. Ten. We just said when I said lynn go get her. Let's go let's go interview, half right away, and she- and usually this doesn't work very well- that when you're very late in an editing process is very hard to end. Great new voices
she went in like it was just. She was born to be in the film. So if you think about it, if you, if you were to think ahead about or dr, how we organise is you might have assumed that My was one of the first people we interviewed because she's so constant, throughout the angle. Have you home? If I had any real assumptions about like You know how that it was a step by step process, and I the aid being with liberated about it. If I was thinking about that, a lot of these actions do that they sure they research groups right of time out of which they wait, some yeah and what comes down is like from sinai etched in stone and that in not only shooting but editing boom done. We can't do that so malleable, so Think of it as a kind of a russian novel to say we are committed to telling a political military narrative policy decisions what's going on from the top were eight, of course, by the intimacy, of the tapes that are there
to reveal unintentionally for them. The johnson and mixing administration were also interests in the bottom up experiences, so called order. people so in the richest in the range of americans. Let's set aside all those vietnamese that we have that right resent all demonstrate of society as well? We've got, you know testers and resistors and draft archers and deserted, and journalists and policy walks and gold star families and military families, and just marines and army, guys that we follow out of roxbury in or out of independence missouri into the phrase that we know where they went to high school. We know other folks did in what would you do know the dynamic jury lives and you ve got skin and again and also you you have. What you were talking about earlier- is that you, this is coming out of civil rights legislation.
the beginning of the woman's man a nuclear reality. Collaboration stuff in the fifties, late forties, fifty zero is, is a big tributary that flows into the anti war movement and you have to integrate all the eggs have to deal with racism in the military. And also and how it leveled out, and you talk to that one nurse who is great, joan fury yeah. She was like tremendous: it's like unsung hero, you don't realize you know how a woman in that situation was feeling that they were necessarily in that situation and end the the that the thing that that that blew my mind of among many other things is just the that you could track. You know once once the country the politics of it yeah culturally and went in the entire glossary for how to to rise, prague, something liberals in the left was written at this time. administration, and maybe a little bit of johnson, but not much what makes you rethink johnson the always thinking johnson
and I love that I mean it to me- he's the most tragic figure in it because he's got this ambitious. stick agenda, that he wants to be a new fdr and vienna, he doesn't know about foreign policy and keeps all of kennedys guys and says. I need you more than any. Did you prior and then he's you can hear in this, and you know that the domestic product, a program camera shrinking and so on. it projects that linen iron to r are going to do in the future is to do the make those domestic programs on camera, so oh really yeah, and do his presidency so that the guns of vietnam are getting louder and louder off stage, and and beginning to shrink the possibilities of this ambitious. Second, only of de are domestic agenda. Also one of the things that you mentioned earlier about desires and men. I think it struck us and over again, and that is sort of the the overall arc of the story. Actually, when our country went through- and you know because of these tapes you have, this
intimate access like we all these people and they tell us their personal stories. We couldn't interview, Johnson and Nixon if we had him for they wouldn't have told us such a the things you can hear on these tapes when they've put johnson might have he might have I dunno you know. Public figures are always kind of like creating their own persona and all that right, we'll kg yeah. So- and you know he installed that for quarter and certain nixon, but you sort think they they I I forgot it was on, or they just figured that it was never going to see the light of day. So you hear them at time of day and every mood talking about the most important things of world, and also would you have for breakfast and how is your weekend and kidding around with their staff and can have seemingly not taking things so seriously all the time, because, I'm sure that's the rate of job right. What is part of the job at having talked to a bomb and idea how gore is whether they know it or not, or whether it's innate there there.
an unnecessary detachment right and you hear, which is it would seem which can be evil, seemingly in which you also are a human being in the end and in the case of presents you're, not there because you're a recluse you're there, because you're Gary is- and you know the name of the secretary and your friends, and you want to know how they are and you're a politician. You do all that stuff that politicians do it's it's. I I think one of the most unusual thing. It'll never happen again. that we have. These two presents the two most important presidents. With regard to vietnam. There they should be just purely top down she suffered stuff and then Johnson told me or then the present decided to do this, but we can hear the wish early on in Johnson. We can hear the cold and care real chelating that that that Nixon, and kissinger are are practicing you can you can hear these quoted things that is describing and what they do. Is they human eyes and they make
no longer top down, but joining the whole flow of all the other people bottom up and that's a really great play. Ever have a president in it, but they also from at the bottom of the business of the voice of the american people are collectively known as the the war came seemingly more and more futile and and heinous that the mo, aunt em of public outcry in the way that it is manifested itself was, has never been seen since and because of the internet. I think that that is neutered. Some of that, but there's obviously a lot of people doing that now in relation to the health care repeal, but you god we, a lot of them, are the same people same people have known it since, and it's a and it's there Kids are their grandkids and it's a pretty interesting continuum. You know and you were speaking a little bit about if we could have interview John
yeah, but we made a very conscious decision early on that. We wouldn't interview folks, like We went to John Mccain and John Kerry. One of the first meetings we had said look. We need your help, but you're not you're I can interview you're going to be in it and John Mccain and John Kerry's in it and we go. We we were going to interview kissinger or jane fonda either, because they've got reputation to sort of spin and we don't dont, we're we're not interested in wasting the time that spinning represents. We wanted basically people that you could have had thanks giving telling you what it was like to climb that mountain or having incoming artillery and wondering you know whether you would ever going to be out and telling your mom I'm not going to come home. I can talk to John Mccain, oh yeah, yeah and how and how did he help just just I think in in I can't really say he is former chief of staff mark soldier was one of our advisers and helped us under stand his situation and helped us understand from a different perspective, some of the things
one carry. You know we put his testimony before the Senate foreign relations committee is in and and John Mccain. We learned things about that Mccain incident of his capture. How that goes beyond kind of what is just generally known about it and and that's import. And we- and I had the opportunity recently a few months ago, to go to Mccain. You know ostensibly to have a few minutes to share stuff with him anyway. stay in watchman. Twice as long stuff and was incorrect, we emotional engage didn't want Anything about him wanted to see the north vietnamese northeast of wonder, understand to understand that, and it was to his credit that he was. So interested in some of the things like the exemptions that work to deliver highway? Our way, the right to know- and I think that that's the loud found from a lot of even the scholars who worked Magnifica me to expose new information over the intervening. Forty two years ago, fall of Saigon just know their little area, and so we were able to aggregate all of that new scholarship
bringing all of the testimony of veterans, try to integrate aggregated into one place, and so we would find, our veterans and our scholar saying I had no idea about this. We then they say now with this. I think you should think about doing it. This way. There's your thumb is the scale here. There's too much emphasis on those that were giving you that kind of wonderful stuff historian it's from west point and from the war colleges. I'm sure that the idea that you're getting both you know three sides of one conflict must have blown their minds. I think if they kept saying it was really nice to hear that no one, I told the story this way in a book and film in you know any form because of the access very enemy and all our respective of time in the tanks and other things I ve been talking about and sitting on the screen with our advisers. You know they would sort of not just tell us to fix things, but they would have discussions
one themselves because then came out in such different places value, and so we would be adding their sort of ceremony of our favorite things to do is listened to them argue about whether westmoreland was right or wrong about this. the color thing or whether Johnson really meant this when he said it or what was the impact of this decision or that decision? You know we learned just listening to them, argue with each other and trying to kind of wine I'm trying to find a middle ground below that sort of banal and boring right, but try to find the right answer in libya, It's. What I wanted to just interject for a moment is this is the time for the commercial for public broadcasting or because there is no. other place that would have dedicated more than ten years and the drawer, neri resources in order to do this so much so that there is not a single book or of film out of the marketplace. That our scholars and our veterans are telling us that is and and is not to toot our horn. It's just saying we are so grateful to have actually been able to spend our professional lives in institutions
would even permit the notion of this and its it just like, really I mean people godot the marketplace. Will this when your house is on fire? It uncle the marketplace and in this case, is the only place that would would put out this fire was public television sets beer, it's great now who are these advisers, so the ad miller, who is at dartmouth who is a fluent in vietnamese, a scholar fred lobe of all, who is a sort of? How would you describe actually start presidential historian, who understood policy could help us in the new anti know. Everybody wants to say well Kennedy had lived. He wouldn't have gotten us into this. Well, you know it's a really interesting dynamic that we don't have to didactics he even raised in the film. We could just tell you what happens and what hand is and who the personnel are and what those personnel recommended Johnson and what johnson does he's he's a free agent ear and away so it it's. It's sort of renders sort of mood some of these troops that we
to discuss at the cocktail very well short of what occurred. It showed a what causes gear and that's it. What happens is that you find wooden, we employed others who knew what happened and we are in in saying what happened now like a horse or document, or will we with them come with them? mere arguments right and a many of the other people that we didn't do, because it would have been unwieldy, have arguments but argue aren't the same thing as facts or give you a really good example. There is within the vietnam I debating society this thing that if, if westmoreland had been fired earlier and creighton abrams. His deputy had been advanced, we would have won the war. That is an argument, I would rather should a thing all all our job is. Is I was calling balls and strikes were saying. This is the point where he replaced as morland and put in April many people would think that abrams would do something. But in fact there was no real, significant change. So
it's either get enrages people are they gonna say see? I told you if it would have been I think you can look in the eyes of a french guy yeah. You know thirty years before and go this isn't going to work out. You know one of the real privilege that this project was bringing some people from vietnam who are scholars to hear and watch the thelma and there's a man that you meet in the film named. We duck who's in he's a scout, in a writer and he has studied the war and he has access to. in that no one else in america has near, and he came just raining and watch the film and tat s what it helped us understand what was happening in hawaii. What was happening on the ground in south vietnam? What was the perspective of ordinary leadership and we couldn't have gotten that the other wham. Whenever he spoke everybody just listen yet we just shut. My is another key drew dont fluent it speak english at all, but spoke a little french. Actually, a lot of french ps beloved. He was a foot soldier but became a kind of celebrate. teacher I and an historian and vietnam. He came to an end
It won't want the same thing we Dorothy interviewed we dug, but we pushed him in front of our cameras again after he spoke up at these meetings, but when We're not came, we just went in and he's wonderful me he gives us is incredible thing he's in the jungle and I've seen animal wild ferocious animals and they don't kill unless they're hungry only human beings kill her back. I am sorry that I say something so you guys avers quite dead. All thing was that you understand what s going on about without the process: the icy, if you, if you aren't always doing all the things rather than making it a sequential series of research, writing shooting editor, then you are not open to this. Then you can't say: look let's open up the film and correct that saying that the scholar said, or let's film, when not break now, and see how he can be integrated into the vote, but but also the way you're talking about it and looking at some of your past work, this seems like this film in particular, was a kind of
mine. Mind blowing experience for you on this level because, as there are their You've done where you're dealing with spending a lot of times rooming into still photographs and you know that here yeah I know, but but you had a lot of footage. So this is was mind. Blowing and we've had footage in baseball. We've had footage in world war two shot at no, no, no, no! No, the one, I didn't think you were. The process is the same, but I you hit the nail on the head, which is this was most challenging and the most transforming for us, we don't recognize who we were, who went into this project and who we are now and a lot of it is just hearing to the same view, time consuming but very necessary. We think ethical, honorable, artistic sort of process things that we've always done back to my first film brooklyn bridge through civil war and all the other stuff, but then, with this huge megillah of a subject
which we've had to triangulate from every which and also one side was relatively unheard. Yes and in this is also not unlike a lot of your other films in a film. You stance movie about america, you know from day. One me really said yes, which we understand the war. We are americans and is an epoch. The important I think you know the most we ve been saying: we must in the latin american history since two. So, as americans, we need to understand it, but as american even if we only care about americans. We cannot understand it if we don't understand the vietnamese, but what they do who they were, who we were fighting with, who were fighting against what drove them. You know why we failed it would be an exercise in futility and navel gazing reactor just focus on ourselves. Once again- and you know we were asked what about hollywood movies and other representations of the war, and so rarely to vietnamese? Have any voice at all time when their initial there, even given a voice over. So you don't even here
their voice, you, you know, someone else speaks for them and we thought it was extraordinarily important to just listen, just ask the questions. and out and enjoying the present find them, and we also spoke to vietnamese here in the? U s, because many you know left the country The war on the losing side they've come here and become incredibly productive citizens, but they have this kind of loss of their three many of them had to leave everything behind like many refugees, and you know it, he's a new life, but they don't talk about the war, because it's too painful so their children don't know what their life was like. They don't know, they're what you know what happened to their parents before this tragedy befell them, so trying to excavate all of that felt, like they're americans do by the way so they're part of our. and dumb no at least if we should be able to get something from. Understanding deeper understanding of the american experience that encompasses all of this yeah. That is what what became really fascinating to me to like along was following.
John Musgrave story into the anti war movement, and then you realizing as public opinion shifted and the the morality morale, which was also diminishing yes, but the morality of you what was necessary lot to survive over. There started to sweat this the things to be the question really what you're hitting on right now, which is you know if you are a citizen of this country? What do you do if our government is doing something that you don't think is right and if you're being lied and if we are going in the wrong direction. If you really believe that, are you supposed to just blindly obeys as to question the useless to protest at you know with your vote what do you do right? These are just profound questions. There's no easy answers, but John Musgrave story, sort of you know him these that entire trends, nation analyzed anguish, hygiene through through all of those quest in and trying to reconcile your own idea of what america is.
The reality you just endure so to traditionally filmmakers then imposed their sort of lesson on it, but I need to do that because still want to honor the people who think that we should still be there, but we also want to get. We feel that John musgraves journey, combined with several other journeys, are going to say at all and nobody's ever going to answer this to anyone else's satisfaction. So what you want to do is raise these questions, sound these questions and then permit the echo to to place within the viewers of I mean, because it's sponsored and you passions and ideas and thoughts about it that excite us today that we're so thrilled that things did that we didn't once call attention to and didn't have even a didactics bone in our body to sort of say, is this so like today. You can't you can't help but feel
the left solely an act, as I think those divides were like to me that the powerful thing was that the culture of war and the this sort of commit meant to nationalism. Vs, you know truth Inga was really that's when it exploded in defined it so so we focused on what was going on in all three capitals to it isn't just all the re people so that you know people in hanoi telling their folks everything right, in Saigon certainly weren't right when washington we've learned, weren't and so that makes for a very interesting story to tell as those things leak out. I found it just as interesting to find out that the head of the of the big goals in in in Hanoi, could go off to moscow and avoid the draft. You know in a different episode were shown pictures of bill Clinton and in no in england, and showing pictures of w
in the air force reserve, and this is all the privileges of wealth and position and political power. That take about, or or in the case of bill clinton brains, nea viz brains got him out of how many rural arkansas and a veto that would have put him right in that man's army. But did you know him brains, gave him a different and eighty you I mean you definitely covered everything, yet to it, but like I found you know towards the end when they were when Nixon was sending them in, and it was clearly futile that you know the the the disposition of of the the people that were being drafted and sent at that time. You know that I think that the one day I go back to his at that seen in apocalypse. Now, where are we? who's. Your commanding officer ain't, you, you know yeah that there is at menace of your question. Orders, not following orders threatening
you know, commanding officers, you know, and then he had the idea that yeah, I dunno that you really got into, because I dunno what kind of information you would find there is about. I dunno what they call it, but you know he he, runs taking out off ragging they re. I waited a session on that. I and end you know it's, it's always not with the hollywood movies, Trade is very rarely in the field, moray back a camp, usually over race or drugs or insubordination personality, hoss agreements, and it comes from the the Fragmentation bombs that would be used serve tossed into a command, bunker and you relieved your problem. way- and it was significant enough that the army studied it and got deep in the weeds about what was doing but by then you know, we've got pictures of guys smoking dough in front of the the news cameras in and guy saying, I'm not fired my gun, I don't intend to farm a guy in the herald and the heroin in the drug epidemic, and so you know, is some as we quote, someone
quoting abraham, saying I need to get this army home to save it. That's that was a The real thing by the end of this words on early all draft and its Nobody wants to be there and they already know this is unwinnable, and they already know that the tide of public opinion, if completely turned is in the process of completely turning and and they wanna, be the last person to die. In vietnam is John Kerry, said crazy and I imagine you must have been amazed at. I was Is it how much journalistic film foot jack courage wow? Either you know, I mean yeah and we were sort of just horrified to discover several hundred journalists were killed during the war trying to collect that footage. They were really up close and personal
what was happening extremely dangerous velvet aims regarding the reality added have what you wanted to mercosur to be was your white with whose shooting mrs we have you find yourself ass and use up all the time, and you know there are vietnamese recovered their american them all over the world that mean the greatest journal in the world like, where's dragged all went there again. The access was unprecedented because the army are military, did not restrict where they could go, so you could get a press pass You can just hop on a helicopter and go anywhere. You want basically right and you know their goal- was to get somewhere where something what's happening so that they can find action or go patrol or something the ten offensive, when the action was happening in Saigon. That's where they were based, enormous numbers of cameras following the war as it was exploding out of them steady, crazy and still photographs it light were drilled into my head. Those two of the the attic
sure of lamb on the streets of saigon. During the ted offensive around your head of the nash and the little girl run right and I to which I would add, the kent state iconic images. What hap This is that we, as we always do in a media culture that is suffused with outlets doesn't want to go deep, it wants to be superficial and and conventional is that we don't really explore and in each one of those photographs we yeah you showed the other shot. We give you more of what happened more of the story so that at least even even in us, it's like nixon silent majority, usually it's just quoted you, the great silent majority, it's out of context, this brilliant speech that turns the tide of public, in the favor of Nixon right, I mean that's It's not said all hearing one line of of John Kerry and we've got nearly the entire speech or the entire testimony here. It is fast stating about the american mind. You know what your
it a line, you know, I heard something on I'm one of the show's. You were talkin to Mcclain's. You know one of his old steven. I forget his last name all the time to work with mccain, I think, Steve Schmidt she that he said that when Nixon resigned, he had a twenty nine percent oh yeah, no, no, no, it's in which is not high, but not when we think we developed this idea and I think the other great appreciation of our nations political skills here, no it was I mean I do I'm houdini skills, yeah yeah, you know in Watergate he was so demonize if you are realising that the government in how corrupt what was happening was but watching going back and the beginning and seeing the speeches he gave his unrest, adding of how the sort of This is of the anti war. Movement could be used as advantage, you know, and dumb the kind of She was about law and order and peace with honor resume with people so powerfully. He was brilliant, and on top of that,
you know, he Kissinger came to the conclusion that vietnam wasn't really that important to america anymore. I, what was important was making peace with china and you know defusing, and with russia, and that was, actually going to be their legacy and his wonted sort of fix up vietnam problem and make it go away, essentially playing a larger game right and it's a china game and a brush against a soviet union game and a real in the view that this is only a dime disassociate yeah it's over. So I can announce what you see is that from truman on eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, even ford, they are making decisions about vietnam that are influencing foreign policy and also military strategy, I e lives last year. based on domestic political career. You know considerations, which means: will I get reelected and aunts happening now
all the time. All the time. That's that's. The other thing is that some of this stuff never changes, and some people are always going to be like. Why? Don't you shut up and listen to the president? Yes, exactly and you know what, if and and conversely, if we had tapes of george Washington or thomas jefferson or abraham lincoln, we be shocked at the at the sort of you perhaps vulgarity of the conversations, as you can hear in johnson, in and and nixon at times, but also the means, the coldness of the real politics and and other is the anguish in the end, the the lack I mean. What to me stunning is to hear johnson's anguish and then hear the speech he gives the next day or the day before arrests are indeed and whatever it is. All a rate is great same with with mcnamara. I mean they're all I fell in and from the beginning, inheriting notes from the truman administration that are saying the same thing. You know it is a big diabetes. Ef I mean this is we could call the film nasa so well what
like you, I- and I also like that. The way you aren't you know the if the film ends up with the design and and the engagement with the wall? You know and that that that you know I get choked up just now, thinking about that like not unlike you know, you're on new york- that there's going to be resistance from people people's. How can you even possibly begin to think of how to make a memorial right and that thing and that one guy who is like that to me it looked like nothing debts as distant shame. I believe then he starts to cry by the end of the sentence that he's begun vehemently and certainly opposed to what the wall represented by the end of it. He is broken down because it proves the effectiveness of it and, if you escape the binary stuff that he's. Prisoner of at the beginning of the sentence and get to the place where, at the end of this, and then you have now just an opportunity to appreciate the wall have an opportunity to have conversation about. which we don't ask as we ve their stuck her head
sand like ostriches. We lost I deal with it. It was too painful. I don't want to talk about it or it. It emotions such posing divisions between people, so polarisation that will you can't have a conversation about it with evolving into yelling almost from the beginning, so weird sort of saying you know what you can. You can have this conversation in more particularly more than one truth can obtain, and we can help you see that that's the case We had no thumb on the scale. We had no political agenda or axe to grind subtle, narrative or thing that we're going to do obviously we're going to bring who we are and try to learn what baggage we brought into it, and im pretty early on that we had to free ourselves of that baggage, who just want to tell you happen and just what happened is itself it's mine, mind bogglingly complex, but also so compelling, and it reveals to us
so much about human nature? We study war, not just because of its bad, as I said, but because it's also reveal stuff about love, your friendship and courage and and and fellowship, and all sorts of stuff in the people you, madam I mean there, may not be like the civil war. We didn't end slavery and and bring the country together and fascism and there's nothing redeeming about vietnam, but in these individual stories, man, I'm it's in some cleaner than the civil war and cleaner than we were too. Could you get right because it is a tragedy you get right to the heart of it and you get. I think we get valuable information for ourselves and how to live our lives from this film and and and we by you know, extension or us most, sir, whatever it is that happens in in in film, and in whatever it is with our audience, my Jim Loftus who worked in the government? For
two years yeah he was with Kerry he you know he did advance for several residents and he was with John Kerry at doing work with him for, like five or seven years, he retired from government. But when I met him in college, you know- in eighty one or eighty two. You would think he had been to vietnam. He was a freshman and he would not stop talking about it. He was obsessed with it and I was like I got hold of this. He I forgot he's up a new hampshire where we were right, yeah and you know he's just he's retired out of the government. He just sitting up there and I'm like you, gotta watch us and he he I think he watched it. Straight like it our man. This is great. You know I can we don't recommend that I just want to say that. Does that David's, like I'm, taking the whole bottle of hills at once? There is a mean it's it's tough for us I think the most we've ever squeezed it in was three days. Is that right, hex out and and and and that was tough for us and we've seen it a gazillion times, and it's still just rip says
just one within the back to me, because I want you to get any sort. You know why. I wonder what you know. What we found that's been so heartening is that it has no intention specially young people of common. You know we had screenings for a variety of reasons within turns and as people of friends Isn't that kind of thing and they come in. see I think, I'm going to have it. You know I was expecting a history lesson like high school history about vietnam war, but I just had an experience and no. That is the compliment we could possibly have because it's you know some kind of funny alchemy to make something out of this raw material. That feels like you were there but we're hoping because of the way all these different points of views exist and people really sort of open their hearts to Why not stories? We get a chance to people to have during a kind of conversation about this period and all the time I can talk about earlier. You know we had
or in our edit room come in and not just consultants who are, you know a little bit at a remove, but people who live through it, who really don't agree at all watched the I agree about what we know we be there do the job? Russell were among the basic questions that are more people on the right and on the left? We protested and prisoners of war, and this is a four examples coming screening and offer watching it. They might not agree but they're having a really different kind of conversation. Having seen the film and that, as you know, the best news we can have That's what we think is so missing right now from our public life for not having these allegations raise outskirts- and you know something about this film to that, and we have really talked about that. I think, is a hugely important green the music we have got. Period, trent, reznor and atticus Ross composed unbelievable tractor. mirrors this in the way they do with the hard metallic.
Without the anger, anxiety, right, yeah, but just also resolving into something melodic and and more emotional and then yo, yo ma and the silk road one sambal in addition to one hundred and twenty takes of the best music. One of the best periods, if not the best period of me, popular music ever and so we, beetles, beatles and rolling stones and led Zeppelin and bob Dylan, and you know crosby stills. Still your simon uncle written and creedence clearwater and miles Davis, and you know but their resurrected, that you know that the recent research is like this hole in it is the pulse. the film minutes. Just stunning, I don't know how they do and we we were here a few to go with them and they told us it was one of the most satisfying collaborations they'd had working on this stuff. ass. We wanted to get into their garage YA, see how they did it here, but but we had felt that this was the most satisfying collaborate, that we'd had- and there was something really exciting- that that this subject had for two dynamic has had any sort of pushed the right
buttons in the way it pushed our buttons or something know what we did was show them. Raw footage didn't score the film it also showed them air views just uncut materia, and then we talked about the moods that we hoped they would be able to avoid. So to ride a he's, gotta, mirth and more than one would. At the same time I mean that's so fascinating that you know, because I used to know drivers lack the right he's examining dread like due to do and and yet at the same time its resolving in the pit of your stomach with a gun of We all have exactly hand and peter coyote is an old radical himself him. He learned a lot. You know he has been able to have done. He had to really leave his baggage at the door to because you know he lived through this it and one way as an activist, but you know what was happening and annoy what the north. The enemy soldiers were saying. What is happening in the white house, and I mean you know he came it was a complete of the war when when we were
acting him how how to read it and we've used him. We love him and he's a dear friend he, This great thing. He doesn't want to see it in the van. So here I am eating cold and often were taking the first take so sometime sentences? Are someone essentially in the moment carry in the words inhabiting the words in the in the best sort of way. But as would move on to the next narration via he would read everything in between and he was going geez. I had no idea until what think. That's what it was, then, that that, for the open minded still among us to be able to just check your your web, is at the door. You know I mean just sorta to say I am disarmed because I think I know but I dont know anything. This was our experience going in and it was exe If our writer, Jeffrey ward, who's, an extraordinary writer? I work with for thirty five years, and we just all heads
and let it go and then go into this with a a different kind of mindset. Yeah, and I think that is for. Like you know, if you can penetrate the this sort of you know apathy or detachment or in you know what, whatever it is, it people or the just the youth some people does not carrying you know like ie if you do a real good job because, right away, you know it's not a history lesson it's hard, not to care. I think it's very engaging immediately the biggest thing to to drop his certainty, because I think this is what we do all the time, particularly today, where really certain. Well known I'll and and deny yes, but that's it. That's a flip side of certainty which, as you know, we're all in our harden silos of just the absolute sure that we know what it is. You are some incredible release that takes place when you let that go, and we had to do that necessarily to make a film, but we watched our audiences. I mean
left right and centre as Linda sang, young and older me just credible testimony from a kid who you know in our an intern who is- grew up with violent video games and after he watched the tet offensive, referring to the us, the nation of the north vietnamese spy right on the streets, he said he's really dead. I started to cry, and I thought my god if we cut through, if he's, if dvds killing and blowing up heads all day, you know and if he comes and he's worried about lamb as a real life being you know, the footage is pretty great deliver the goods, then we haven't been approached by video game company and we would never do it. I remember, after the civil war we got approached it and I just said cause you're
you'll make it possible for the confederacy to win, and that is not going to be one of the options that I will tolerate. Well, thank you so much a atlanta can. That was a. I think you did a masterpieces, great job, and you know, and and the book two is just coming out too- I've got a huge book, yeah, terrific, it's it's jeff, ward, being able to say: okay, you sons of bitches. You cut this out of this episode. Okay for time I get to put it back in and add a little bit more, so it is always a terrific treat and I think it's important for people to know that this is not a downer. No, no, no! No look! There is way, I mean there's humor in this theory transcendence in here, but it's also We argue really. This was a good thing that system work. Should people of the united states over time decided that this was not really in the best interests of the country and the elected people who changed it up and then, in the wisdom, the humility that you know that this sort of
enlightenment, the you know it all of it all the good human things and the bad human thing. During their I mean in a we transcend it right exactly I mean over the course of making the film and spending time with this material is so dark and often really devastating for everybody who worked on looking at the images thinking about the losses that people suffered and the guilt they carry for, didn't make it and rode the awful things that happened. Just you know, it became is really overwhelmingly was undone saying this is such a dark story. How are we going to get through it, but I think what care us through and we hope, carries our audience. There was that it is the result that people have gone through. These things can still be here. They can tell you their story, they can make for themselves and there's tremendous courage in that and you know, humility and grace away like you saddened that, isn't it happy ending by any means, but there is some deeper meaning for all of us that that's over hoping it's you know in the beginning of the film max masculine, says he's quoting from.
the holocaust survivor. Viktor Frankl, who wrote a book on man's search for meaning because you being to live, is to suffer to serve I have is to find meaning in suffering, and I heard a corollary to that recently, which, as young said you have to make meaning out of suffering, which is even different than finding active. It's not a passive right. It's not waiting for that understanding to come. It's it's going out and seizing the bull, but I mean this is and we see that people in the film do this over and over again and then there is like. I have your that you know, along with all these things, whatever is open, ended in inner in terms of how you feel or what, how the discussions evolve is that you do feel closure, yes, a k while ago, which is which is good right here at all that information. No, it's really. It's really really good and, I think a part. The message funny at the end is is hopeful. It's it's. You know south
I had one of the worst passages of time and they did a thing called truth and reconciliation. I think that with the film is attempting to do is suggest as close as what we can buy the variety of experiences. What the truth of the situation was: and then it leaves open the possibility, reconciliation yeah will we need a right now to a man rather nice guys. Thank you watch that thing here what a great conversation with those two and in what they do. documentary is like I gotta, I'm going to have to start it over just to process it all. It's definitely worth it because there Just so many things that I certainly didn't know. Maybe some of your more obsessed- and I am like my friend Jim and was up in new hampshire now so he's hunkered down at their new after, but he was obsessed with it me. You know for those of you
who really knew a lot about it. That you're going to know more in, for those of you feel a little light, of how much you do know you're going to know more for those of you who just knew the idea of it or reacted to it. The way you were support, to react as somebody who is against said it's going to be an eye opener all right. So thank you. What am I doing the end of the show? Do it I'm going to play guitar Have you it's weird do when I play this sort of rocky shitty dirty guitars people react to it. I guess there's no allusions to doing so. different I'll, do it I'll do it
the our lives.
Transcript generated on 2022-08-01.