Through my venture into the list, I admittedly have delved very little in the realm of the documentaries, especially the classic ones. So I didn’t really have much of a fully-realized expectation going into In the Year of the Pig, and if you follow this blog well enough, you know how I’ve learned how bad it usually ends up being if I go into a film blind. Now, this isn’t one of those cases, but it is mostly because this isn’t like your average film, even in the build of documentaries. If there were such a thing as an avant-garde documentary, I’d expect the predecessor of such a genre would be In the Year of the Pig; that’s how unique and different it is constructed.
Most of the documentary features video and audio snippets of various higher-ups in the government describing how the conflict in Vietnam began, how it escalated, and how it drew in outside countries who viewed it as a proxy war, including the United States. The audio usually drones on, while related (and sometimes unrelated) footage is played over the snippets, to contextualize the war. It is a stirring construction of the subject, one I can’t recall having seen before, and it would have been an equally fascinating documentary, if it weren’t for the fact that I was barely able to keep my head above what was going on. For as unique as the film is structured, that’s how obfuscating the information being presented to us actually is, and thus, I found, you couldn’t watch this like a regular documentary and expect to be presented the information in a regular fashion; this is far too convoluted, a jumbled mess of wires of a documentary, for someone to pop it in and watch it willy-nilly.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: while I was able to appreciate the new and revolutionary structure of this documentary, and was able to recognize its importance (especially given it was made in the heart of the Vietnam War, and not after), I just wasn’t able to follow along with what would have amounted to the story of the film. There wasn’t really a story; it was just a succession of newsreels, with other newsreels layered on top of it, with very little context and even littler flow. This was just a really, really hard watch, even for as easily identifiable a classic as it was, and it is this that is largely why I’ve given it the rating I have; it’s not to be mean, but as I’ve said countless times before, and likely will many times ahead, the primary factor of how I grade a film is in its entertainment value, and this was neither all that entertaining, or even discernible as a documentary. It’s a little sad that I’ve essentially been forced to give this what would amount to a rotten rating in my grading scale, because as a documentary, it is clearly groundbreaking in many more ways than one, but it was just a complete bother to get through, and in that, the film unfortunately sealed its fate for me.
Arbitrary Rating: 6/10