Four Hours in My Lai

Four Hours in MY LAI, anatomy of a massacre

Four Hours in My Lai
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Four Hours in My Lai.jpg

Directed by Kevin Sim
Narrated by Mark Hallile
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s): English
Original network: ITV
Original release: 2 May 1989

Four Hours in My Lai is a 1989 television documentary made by Yorkshire Television concerning the 1968 My Lai Massacre by the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. The film includes interviews with soldiers at the massacre, and the later trials of those involved. The programme first broadcast on ITV as part of Yorkshire Television’s First Tuesdaydocumentaries.[1] Michael Bilton and Kevin Sim, who created the film, based a book of the same name off the documentary; after release, the book was met with mixed reception.


The documentary and book tell the story of the 11th Light Infantry Brigade, from their training through deployment in South Vietnam. It interviews former U.S. servicemen and massacre survivors; both describe the background of the area where the village of My Lai lay. (U.S soldiers referred to the entire area, made up of several hamlets and sub-hamlets, as “Pinkville,” due to the reddish-pink color used on military maps to denote more heavily populated areas.) The documentary also shows photographs of U.S. servicemen torturing civilians before the massacre and tells of U.S. servicemen raping South Vietnamese women and children prior to the massacre. After the massacre, the trials of the soldiers at My Lai are examined. The documentary is narrated by Mark Halliley. It also aired on the PBS series Frontlineas “Remember My Lai”.[2]


In 1989, the film won an International Emmy Award for Best Documentary.[3] Upon release, Bilton and Sim’s book Four Hours in My Lai was met with mixed reception. In a review for Chicago TribuneMarc Leepson criticised the book for avoiding “the common tactics of the Viet Cong“, and describing their activities “in euphemistically positive terms.” Leepson went on to say the book “paints a distorted picture of the Vietnam war”.[4] Writing for The Boston Globe, Gail Caldwell said the book was written with a “staccato, cinematographic style”, and praised it for providing “broad context, from the horrific losses Charlie Company had endured […] to the cover-up and subsequent acquittal of several chief Army officers”.[5]Murray Polner of Washington Monthly credited the two for “[laying]out the complete story, from the raid to the coverup, in straightforward and often agonizing detail.”[6]


  1. Jump up^ “First Tuesday: Four Hours in My Lai”. British Film Institute. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
  2. Jump up^ “Remember My Lai”. PBS. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
  3. Jump up^ “Michael Bilton”. International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
  4. Jump up^ Leepson, Marc. “An Atrocity Revisited: Two British Journalists Probe The My Lai Massacre”Chicago Tribune. Tribune Company. pp. 1–2.
  5. Jump up^ Caldwell, Gail (29 March 1992). “A horror that never ends: Almost 25 years later, the My Lai massacre still has the immediacy of yesterday’s news, with the grainy unreality of film or fiction.” The Boston Globe. Affiliated Publications. (subscription required)
  6. Jump up^ Polner, Murray (1 May 1992). “Four Hours in My Lai”Washington Monthly. (subscription required)

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