Working on his new film was ‘a daily humilation’.
The series – which relies on the latest historical accounts – scores of participants and a wealth of archival materials – gives voice to Vietnamese combatants and civilians in addition to the usual American experts – policymakers – veterans and protesters.
The result is a work of dramatic sweep and shocking intimacy—interspersing for example a US pilot’s frank description of bombing the Ho Chi Minh trail with the recollections of a Vietnamese woman who evaded a fiery death or contrasting the last recorded words of a young draftee with snippets of private presidential conversations.
The soundtrack includes classic songs of the era plus new recordings by Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross—whose menacing theme music underscores the mayhem.
As a veteran of the Iraq War who has written about the experiences of returning soldiers I jumped at the chance to speak with Burns about his most formidable project to date.