Reluctance probably describes my attitude toward the movie We were soldiers as my family began watching it. I dislike violence in movies, especially gratuitous, meaningless violence. But gratuitous couldn't ever describe this movie, even though it is rated R and contains a large amount of very graphic death and dismemberment. While this is a war movie, it is based on the true account with the same title, written by Lt. Colonel Hal Moore and Joseph Galloway.
Considered one of the most important engagements in Viet Nam, the struggle for the "Valley of Death," or Ia Drang, is portrayed vividly by Mel Gibson as Hal Moore, Sam Elliott, Greg Kinnear and others, who all did an excellent job.
The film depicts both sides of the conflict, and it also tells us what was happening with the wives back home. Colonel Moore's wife has become well known for her efforts to change and improve army support of the bereaved, as well as other service family needs, all stemming from situations portrayed in the film. Her role in the film shows direct intervention in army procedures, but actually her efforts were less direct and led, ultimately, to changes at the Pentagon.
The opening segments of the film explain the changing tactics and methods of the division, specifically shifing to helicopter-assisted air assaults. As part of this repurposing, they renamed the 1st Calvary Division. They became 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, which was General Custer's unit. Moore was nicknamed "Yellow Hair" by his troops, not only referencing Custer but because he, too, had blond hair. (This isn't in the movie.) Fact builds upon fact until there is a real sense of dread before the fighting ever begins. And when it does, it is merciless, horrific, and nonstop for several days. If you wonder how soldiers can continue to fight against overwhelming odds, watch this film. If you wonder how units can prevail over greater numbers and better tactical positions, watch this film. My attitude towards this movie now? I wholeheartedly recommend it.~Tessa 4 out of 5 stars.