Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts




This paper takes a survey approach to films produced during and following the Vietnam War, focusing on how returning Vietnam veterans were regarded, and often betrayed, by society. This involves discussing and analyzing both films that deal directly with the combat of the Vietnam War as well as films that fall into the category of "coming home" films. Combat films discussed include Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Hamburger Hill, and The Green Berets, and the discussion focuses on the horrors and realities of the Vietnam War that filmmakers attempted to inject into their films. After covering the chaos and destruction portrayed in combat films, the central objectives in combat films, and their influence on audiences, there is a shift in the examination to attempt to understand the reasoning behind the American myth of the triumphant war hero and how filmmakers used this myth to help reinvent the war film genre, using Vietnam veterans as a backdrop. This paper also presents the problems many returning Vietnam veterans faced when returning home to the United States and how filmmakers chose to represent Vietnam veterans facing those problems. Films such as First Blood, Coming Home, The Deer Hunter, Distant Thunder, Jacknife, and Some Kind of Hero exemplify the use of the triumphant hero myth in order to illustrate the ways in which Vietnam veterans were disregarded after returning from service. The discussion concludes with a review of the triumphant war hero myth, how filmmakers portrayed returning Vietnam veterans, and what purposes filmmakers looked to serve in their representations of those who fought in Vietnam.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Michael James Noreen



OCLC Number


File Format


File Size

56 pages