A Bright Shining Lie (1998)

TV Movie   |  R   |    |  Drama, War


A Bright Shining Lie (1998) Poster

True story of Army man John Paul Vann, whose military success provided him the fulfillment he never found in his personal life.


6.4/10
1,415


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  • Bill Paxton in A Bright Shining Lie (1998)
  • A Bright Shining Lie (1998)
  • A Bright Shining Lie (1998)
  • A Bright Shining Lie (1998)
  • A Bright Shining Lie (1998)
  • A Bright Shining Lie (1998)

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22 November 2004 | Tim-121
Should have listened to my brother
I had received the book and DVD for Christmas last year. Being ignorant on much of the Vietnam War, I decided to read the book to see if I could apply anything to the Iraq situation. My brother told me to watch the DVD first because if I read the book first, the movie would be a huge disappointment. I read about 3/4 of the book and then watched the movie. Needless to say, the movie was a disappointment.

It tries to cover way too much in a short period of time. Bill Paxton is OK as Vann but every scene is way to short. Several characters are composite characters rather than the actual person. Donal Logue appears to be a composite of David Halberstam and Neil Sheehan. Eric Bogohosian is completely miscast as a composite of Doug Ramsey and Daniel Ellsberg (I think they call him Doug Elders in the movie).

The beauty of the book is the detail that it has. There's about 100 pages on Vann's 1962 stint and how he became completely frustrated with the American leadership in the war. There's about 100 pages on the history of Vietnam. There are about 100 pages on the Battle of Ap Bac and the fallout. The book weaves Vann's life in and out of the story of the Vietnam War. The movie makes Vann the centerpiece, so it becomes very difficult to get the background information and non-Vann information that one needs to understand Vann and the war. How could you do that in two hours?

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