Let me get this disclaimer out of the way. I am a Democrat. I am (very) left of center. John Kerry is my choice to be the next president of the United States (but was not my first choice). On occasion, I can be accused of showing bias. I have done my best to avoid that pitfall in the following review.
Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry
Directed by George Butler
In Going Upriver: The Long War of
John Kerry, director George Butler, whose previous films include Pumping Iron, and the
astonishing Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition, has given us what months of interviews,
photo ops, newspaper articles and spin doctors could not: a personal look at John Kerry the man. The
debate of September 30th gave us a glimpse, but this film by longtime Kerry friend Butler, is a personal portrait that
gives a glimpse into how important he was in the anti-Vietnam War movement and into the true measure of the man.
Loosely based on the best-selling book Tour of Duty by Douglas Brinkley, Going Upriver documents John Kerry's early life from his exceptionally smart, athletic and committed beginnings to his emergence as a truly heroic, principled and above all, patriotic young man who enlisted in the Navy following his graduation from Yale in 1966. Eventually being deployed in Vietnam, Kerry volunteered to command a swift boat, one of the most dangerous positions in the war. During his service, as I am sure you are all aware, Kerry was awarded a Bronze Star, a Silver Star and 3 Purple Hearts.
Former senator Max Cleland (D, GA) refers to the war as "beauty and terror," an apt phrase for the war described by John Kerry and others upon their return from Vietnam. Shortly after returning to the US, Kerry attended the Winter Soldier conference on wartime atrocities and was subsequently involved in the formation of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), an organization whose overall importance in the stateside peace movement is often underreported. Having such a large group of men who were willing to stand up be counted for peace was a public rebuke to the establishment that tried to paint the anti-war movement as simply a bunch of draft-dodging, peacenik commies.