The army's not accepting of Major Barker as the general didn’t really matter to me. From the Major, you get an important realization of Vietnam in comparison to others. When Barker states, “Too bad we couldn’t show you a better war” you realize the insignificance and worthlessness of the Vietnam war. Not only was the war a waste of life and money for the United States, but it was also a military embarrassment. Go Tell the Spartans makes no lies about that. At the end of the film when Barker is laying dead and naked, it couldn't get any more embarrassing and dehumanizing than that.
At no point in the film does the war seem appealing or heroic. The men over time become more fed up and emotionally unstable, one higher officer even commits suicide. The soldiers look out of place in Vietnam just as they were. It never looks like they are helping anyone, and certainly not themselves.
In the beginning, it is interesting how the soldiers make fun of France for their failures. America ending up doing nothing in Vietnam and its arrogance is revealed in Go Tell the Spartans. The film just left me feeling bitter. At least it was more honest than Oliver Stone’s rich kid cry-fest, Platoon. But even then, I think I was still entertained and enjoyed Platoon a lot more.
I don’t even really consider Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now to be a Vietnam war film. It may be set in Vietnam, but comes off more as a bizarre nightmare. The fact they he repeatedly tried to receive support from the U.S. military is a joke. I can respect him for trying, but I don’t see how that film could benefit the United States or its military. Coppola claiming that Apocalypse Now was “honest, mythical, pro-human, and therefore pro-America,” was the funniest reasoning for why it should be supported. Although I think Apocalypse Now is a fun film, I would never want the government to waste money on it(among other things).
When comparing Go Tell the Spartans and Apocalypse Now, they are about as different as Vietnam war films can get. Go Tell the Spartans is as realistic and banal as a war film could be. Apocalypse Now is more like a fantasy. I find myself going back to Apocalypse Now once every couple years. I don’t think that I will revisit Go Tell The Spartans.