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Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry | 2004 | PG-13 | - 1.7.3

Documentary chronicling John F. Kerry's tour of duty in Vietnam as a navy swift boat commander, his subsequent leading role as a peace activist and spokesman against U.S. involvement in that war. Directed by George Butler. [1:30]

SEX/NUDITY 1 - A man and a woman sleep while sitting up in an airplane, resting their heads on each other's shoulders. Several men are shown bare-chested on board a boat.


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VIOLENCE/GORE 7 - We read that 58,169 American soldiers were killed, 300,000 American soldiers were wounded and 3 million Vietnamese civilians were killed during the Vietnam War. We see footage of the 1968 Tet Offensive and the aftermath (we read that there were 8,000 wounded and 1,500 killed in this battle); people run through streets in fear, wounded soldiers are placed on helicopters (we see gaping, bloody wounds and missing limbs), buildings and foliage burn, and many dead bodies and many filled body bags are shown. There is a great deal of footage of post firefight carnage, with dead bodies strewn on the ground, bloody wounds exposed, limbs twisted, etc. We see a dead body lying in a field (his face is covered with blood). Veterans testify to the fact that civilian children were murdered and women were raped. We hear about a boat being attacked from both sides of a river, we see the boat beached, we hear about a man being poised with an RPG trained on the men in the boat, and hear that one of the men on the boat jumps off, chases the man down and kills him. A man talks about having been shot and falling off a boat, the boat coming back for him, and another man on the boat, who is wounded himself, pulling him out of the water and to safety, while still being shot at. We see a photograph of a soldier with his rifle shoved into the nostril of a prisoner and we hear that it was very painful when they would twist the rifle. We see a photograph of a soldier posing with a dead body. Boats patrol the rivers and we see guns firing in several scenes (we hear that the boats had a 90% casualty rate). We see people fighting in the streets, armed guards marching on college campuses, and we hear reports of riots, and fires burning on the streets (this is in the U.S.) We see many large ground explosions from the air, with plumes of fire and smoke. Soldiers search through a field and set a hut on fire. We hear about and see several firefights with boats patrolling a river. We hear many reports of civilians being murdered, their villages being destroyed, that soldiers were being instructed to bomb and shell the population and told that the enemy should be killed, etc. We hear a report about the assassination of John F. Kennedy and we hear and see people grieving over the news. We hear about the abhorrent treatment of Vietnam veterans upon their return. We hear about provocateurs and infiltrators who tried to make a peaceful protest turn violent. We hear that President Nixon ordered his staff to, "destroy the young demagogue before he becomes another Ralph Nader."


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LANGUAGE 3 - 2 scatological terms, 1 anatomical term, 4 mild obscenities, 1 religious exclamation.


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SUBSTANCE USE - People are shown smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol.


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - The Vietnam War, politics, patriotism, hope, fear, terror, admitting mistakes, patriotic duty, idealism, public service, John F. Kennedy, values, family, liberty, communism, the Cold War, leadership, the Geneva Convention, hypocrisy, counterculture, atrocities, war crimes, heroism, symbolism, betrayal, the Tet Offensive, death of a friend, death of a child, sacrifice without meaning, freedom, grief, honor, defiance, social revolution, liberation, war protests.

MESSAGE - War is a waste of life when the objectives are questionable. War changes people.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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