1974 Academy Award Winner for Best Documentary Feature
The title of this documentary was inspired by the mantra recited by those in charge of the Vietnam War: "In order to win the war, we must win the hearts and minds of the people." The failure to achieve this, coupled with the disastrous no-win policies of the higher-ups, is the nucleus of this film, put together by director Peter Davis in the same manner as Marcel Ophuls' The Sorrow and the Pity. Like the Ophuls film, Davis juxtaposes news footage of the Vietnam war with interviews conducted with its observers and participants, interspersing vignettes of the fatuous comments made by the generals and politicians. The film was briefly withdrawn from distribution when Walter Rostow, one-time advisor to President Johnson, insisted that his reputation had been damaged and demanded that the two minutes featuring Rostow on-camera be deleted. More controversy arose when Hearts and Minds won the Best Documentary Oscar, whereupon the Academy issued a statement--read during the awards ceremony by Frank Sinatra--that it did not condone or advocate the volatile statements made by the producers during their acceptance speech.
"A landmark! The definitive American documentary about Vietnam!" Michael Atkinson, Village Voice
Power is virtually the first word heard in Peter Davis epic documentary Hearts and Minds,and power real and mythical is what the film contemplates in as many tones and moods as you might expect in superior fiction. Vincent Canby, The New York Times (1975)