Those of a certain age will remember with a bitter taste in their mouth the American betrayal of the Vietnamese people in the early to mid 1970s. After Nixon negotiated a cease-fire, congressional Democrats cut off funding for the war, refusing aid to the South Vietnamese who were left on their own to face their deaths at the hands of the North Vietnamese who ignored the cease-fire and who were supplied by the Chinese and Soviets. After the Americans left and the North invaded the South a curtain of misery and terror settled over the Vietnamese people, especially those who had worked with the Americans. It's perhaps the darkest, most disgraceful event in our national history, at least in the 20th century.
To say that the South Vietnamese suffered scarcely begins to capture the horrors they experienced, but last night I watched an excellent film, made by Vietnamese filmmakers and actors, that gives us some insight into the atrocities perpetrated by the communists on those who had made the fatal mistake of trusting American politicians to honor our commitment to their protection. Just as the movie The Killing Fields, gives us insight into the unimaginable slaughter perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge as they swept into the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, so, too, does Journey from the Fall (2007) strip away the comfortable rationalizations that were all very much in the air as we fled Saigon in 1975.
Journey follows the fate of a South Vietnamese official, his wife, son, and mother, in the wake of the collapse of South Vietnam. It's heartbreaking to watch, but it's a story repeated millions of times in millions of lives of people trying to flee the benevolences administered by the armies of the North.
The movie is a little confusing since the narrative does not follow a chronological sequence, but it does a marvelous job of showing us who the Vietnamese people were and the terrors to which they were subjected by the communists.
It's a splendidly crafted film about a very important part of our history, one most of us would probably like to forget, but which we must always remember. It's a shame that most of the politicians who refused to allow President Ford to protect the South from their vicious neighbors are no longer around to see it.RLC