(detailed information about this entry from Wikipedia)
We Were Soldiers is a 2002 war film that dramatized the Battle of Ia Drang, the first major battle of the Vietnam War which took place in November 1965. It was directed by Randall Wallace and stars Mel Gibson. It is based on the book We Were Soldiers Once...And Young by Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore and reporter Joseph L. Galloway, who were at the battle.
Commanding the air calvary unit, Lt. Col. Hal Moore (Mel Gibson), is a born leader committed to his troops that is getting ready for the first battle of the Vietnam War. The story line is how he leads his men into the Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam. The story also talks about the minor plot back at home where Moore's wife (Madeleine Stowe) along with some other wives of soldiers take over the job of delivering death letters to the soldier's relatives that live in the military complex. Before leaving the training base camp in America, Moore delivers a touching speech to his unit. He mentions that the U.S. forces will all come home together and that he will leave no one behind, and also promise to be the first to set foot on the battlefield and the last one to leave. The night before their departure for Vietnam a sort of a party for the officers asigned to the mission is celebrated. In this passage Col. Moore learns from a superior officer that his unit will be known as the 7th regiment, he feels a little bit odd because the resemblance of his mission to that of Custer who coincidentially commanded the 7th Cavalry regiment as his dreaded hour in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. The story then goes to the gruesome battle that switches between the Vietnamese and American forces view. In the movie, the Vietnamese troops were treated with respect (see below in Debates). At the end of the three days of fighting, the seemingly victorious G.I.'s leave. Moore is the last one to leave the Vietnamese soil, once he's been assured that all his men dead or alive had left the battlefield.
We Were Soldiers is often regarded as one of the few films, along with John Wayne's The Green Berets (1968), to offer a positive representation of the American presence in Vietnam. However, the movie is somewhat ambivalent about the morality of the war, presenting the North Vietnamese army as a capable and brave opponent, and concluding with a statement that the U.S. soldiers did not fight for their country, but for each other. Some scenes toward the end of the movie are clearly anti-war in their depiction of the horror of the fighting, as well as the graphic depiction of the loss of life. The film also showed how political strife at home crept into the war, and comprimised the lives of American soldiers. Moore detested this and even disregarded orders from his superiors when they were politically motivated.
Certain aspects of the film are heavily dramatized and edited. The final bayonet charge by the American troops on the North Vietnamese base camp is completely ficticious and quite out of character with the rest of the film. Historically, the battle ended with the withdrawal of North Vietnamese forces and subsequent extraction of 1/7 by helicopter. The presence of another 7th Cavalry battalion, 2nd Battalion (2/7), is ignored during the movie. This, combined with the ficticious bayonet charge, lends the film an air of revisionism. Historically, 2/7 moved away from the battlefield on foot and was nearly annihalated by enemy forces at LZ Albany. Knowledge of these facts might change an audience's perception of the battle's outcome. While other errors and dramatizations are comparatively minor, the addition of a heroic charge and subtraction of an entire battalion can be considered grievious errors in a movie that aspires to accuracy. These kinds of liberties with reality are also apparent in other movies written by Randall Wallace, namely Pearl Harbor and Braveheart.