Geoff Pevere, Toronto Star (found via Lexis Nexis)
It's said that history is written by the victors, but the history of Vietnam challenged in former anti-war activist David Zeiger's documentary Sir! No Sir! has been written by losers powerful enough to build myth out of truth.
The myth, of course, is the prevailing neo-conservative one that paints the Vietnam anti-war movement as an act of left-wing hippie disloyalty perpetrated against veterans who fought for their country only to be spat upon back in America.
Bull, says Zeiger's movie, which interviews dozens of ex-soldiers and unearths a wealth of archival footage to suggest the war was protested almost as vigorously within the military as without, and the reason why this has been forgotten owes as much to current politics as collective amnesia.
Jane Fonda appears to remind us that even her enduringly controversial role in protesting the war was only made possible because of support within the fighting forces.
Beginning with the recollections of veterans who organized poetry readings and demonstrations to protest America's intensifying war effort, the film gathers momentum and fury as it recounts escalating dissent in the ranks that led to "fragging" (attacks on officers) in combat zones, as well as marches, arrests and military trials at home. Between '66 and '71, the Pentagon itself recorded over a half million "incidents of desertion."
The effect of Zeiger's act of recovered historical memory is as stirring as it is relevant: without ever mentioning Iraq, Bush, Afghanistan or even John Kerry, the movie lands like a grenade lobbed directly in the present.
Tonight's 7 p.m. premiere will be followed by a panel discussion with Darrell Anderson, a former U.S. Army specialist in Iraq.