Heaven & Earth
Director Oliver Stone completes his Vietnam Trilogy of films, the others being Born On The Fourth Of July and Platoon, examining the war from many perspectives. Heaven And Earth follows the true story of a Vietnamese village girl who survives a life of suffering and hardship during and after the Vietnam War. Based on the autobiographies When Heaven and Earth Changed Places by Le Ly Hayslip with Jay Wurts and Child of War, Woman of Peace by Le Ly Hayslip with James Hayslip.
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Not for classroom use, but unique
Heaven and Earth is a film by Oliver Stone set in Vietnam. The story begins prior to the full-blown entrance of the Americans into Vietnam and follows the true life story of a young girl in Vietnam, her coming of age during and participation in the civil war, her immigration to America, her heartaches and successes there, and finally her return to her family's village in Vietnam. The scenery is spectacular and the portrayal of village life at the time may be useful in a classroom situation however some scenes and language are graphic and brutal and would not be suitable. I would recommend this movie for any adult interested in the Vietnam War period. While addressing the effects of America's involvement in Vietnam, the focus includes the Vietnamese point of view and experience of what happened to the farmers and peasants of the time. More specifically,the viewer sees the women of Vietnam at that time and what it took in order to survive and help provide for their families. Its mature themes prevent me from recommending it as a resource for classroom teaching however.
As I stated earlier, this particular Vietnam War era movie is unique in that it is told from a woman's point of view. Regardless of one's ethnicity, I believe many aspects of this story are relate-able to people of any culture. We see the importance the father-daughter relationship plays in her perception of her place in the world, participation with the Viet Cong, her first love where she is taken advantage of by the husband of the woman who employs her as a nanny, her struggles as a single-mother during a civil war, marriage to an American soldier suffering from PTSD, and finally she becomes a business owner attaining a middle-class life which enables her to travel back to Vietnam with her sons in order to reunite with family and her village.