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My Father's Brothers documentary review


Directed by: Shawn Kelley

Written by: Shawn Kelley, Patrick McLean

Starring: Jack Kelley, Sr, Lynn Kelley, Mike Thibault, Mike Sturges, Bill Vose, Bill Palmer


A dramatic and vivid insight into a devastating battle that took place in Vietnam between American soldiers and the Vietcong.

My Father's Brothers documentary review
My Father's Brothers documentary review

That battle took place on the 29th of June 1966, when a band of U.S. soldiers encountered a large number of Vietcong in the jungle, which outnumbered the Americans almost 10 to 1. Immediately both sides opened fire on each other, resulting in many fatalities and injuries. The director interviewed his father Jack Kelley, Sr, who was an army captain at the time, Jack's wife Lynn and seven other men who served in Vietnam and survived this devastating event.

This multi-award-winning documentary contains many sequences during which Kelley, his wife and the survivors are being interviewed. The men share their experiences and talk about how and why they joined the army, the events of that fateful day, what they did during the battle, what they saw and how it made them feel and how this unforgettable encounter has affected their lives ever since. All the interviewees come across as intelligent individuals, they describe the significant events and sometimes they get emotional as they recall their experiences. It should be mentioned that some descriptions of injury are quite strong.

In addition to the interviews, there is also plenty of black-and-white footage throughout that shows American troops in Vietnam during the war. The soldiers are seen going on patrol, dealing with weaponry and engaging the enemy during the battle in question. There are many black-and-white photos of the interviewees during their time in Vietnam and other U.S. soldiers and pictures of them fighting the enemy during the battle.

Shawn Kelley also provides a voice-over and does a great job at it. The methodical editing was done by John Disher and the material is put together very effectively. The documentary is separated in chapters, each concentrating on a different part of the soldiers' story regarding the battle. Each time a new chapter begins, the screen is filled with a relevant black-and-white photo and the title of the chapter. There is also the sound of gunfire whenever footage or pictures of the soldiers in the jungle are shown and the interviewees are talking about the actual enemy encounter.

Composer Cristina 'Trinity' Velez-Justo makes an outstanding contribution. The music is beautiful and emotional and at times tense and it brings feelings of courage, melancholy or danger.

My Father's Brothers is a rather interesting and moving documentary that is very well made and brings attention to this horrific battle that took place in Vietnam and introduces the audience to some of the survivors, who deserve a lot of praise for their contribution and so do the filmmakers. This achievement explores the horrors of war and the greatness of bravery. It also pays homage to American soldiers who lost their lives in Vietnam and American soldiers who survived that war.



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