The Quiet American
We watched this film for my War and Society class today, and I'm supposed to be writing my term paper for this module now, but as usual, I'm procrastinating. wahahaha~
I've heard of this film before but only had a very vague idea what it is about. In the introduction of the film, I was actually very surprised to see a very familiar name being credited for this film. Cinematography was by Christopher Doyle. More precisely, the film credits actually stated "Christohper Doyle HKSC". erm... Christopher Doyle, despite is very Western sounding family name is a Hong Kong based film maker and best known for his cinematography for Wong Kar Wai's films, although he does a couple of other Asian films sometimes, and some other films, like this one for example. Maybe because he was the cinematographer, I somewhat expect expected a certain level of standard in this film's cinematography and therefore spent quite a lot of time pondering over his use of camera angles and distance shot rather than thinking about the issues of the Vietnam War. The prof would be quite disappointed about this. lol~
I really feel very pampered watching a Christohper Doyle's piece because of the way he lets the camera follow the character. We see what the character is seeing and the time and distance of the changes in sights and stuff is very well positioned. The time is just right, a little slow, but not slow enough to bore us, definitely slow enough for us to take in all the sights of the set. Another thing I like about Christohper Doyle is his close up shots. I don't know how he does them, but he does them really well and we get to see all the emotions oozing out from the characters' faces. The only time his close up shots failed him were for Hero and 2046, in particular, the Zhang Ziyi (or Ziyi Zhang, as that girls wants to be known as now. I don't see the big deal over it since the Westerners still will mispronounce her name, no self serving English/American can pronounce all the Zs and Zhs well.) her big head shots always show her pimpled face. yucks~
Okay, I better get straight back into the War and Society part of the film instead of hanging onto the film studies part. And speaking of film studies, I screwed up my mid term test on the section of cinematography. I totally forgotten what cinematography was all about. sucks...
The very first thing that struck me about the portrayal of Vietnam was the usage of French in Vietnam, or as the film referred that geographical area to as, Indo-China. Yes, there were many parts of Vietnamese speaking, but quite a bit of French too. When Pyle died, Fowler told Phuong he died in French, not English, not Vietnamese, but French. When Fowler communicated with the Vietnamese soldiers, they spoke in French. Many of the cafes and bars had French names. This reminded me of some tapes we used to watch in History classes back in those JC days. There was one regarding the Indo-China Wars (which is another name for the Vietnam War, but since we studied it from a Southeast Asian perspective, it was called the Indochina War), King Bao Dai was interviewed. The whole interview, he spoke only in French, not Vietnamese despite him being a Vietnamese, but French. I guess this says a lot of French Indo-China.
This brings me to the whole point, why did the bloody Americans got themselves into this war? They don't even speak the language. bah~ Seriously, I was very pleasantly surprised that this film despite being American made, seemed to be implying that the decision of their involvement in the Vietnam War wasn't that a justified one. This makes me even more despise the place I live in. If someone ever made a film that critisises our government's decision of anything, it'd probably get banned or something.
Another reason which made me not like the film is the whole Phuong part. That girl is a whore man. I really don't see anything in her that can make those two stupid man say that they love her with all their hearts. I mean, she's just a whore, she's not worth it. She's a bloody SPG with a Viet context. Face it, she doesn;t love either one of them, if she does, she wouldn't have left Fowler, nor would she have been with Fowler in the first place. And she's not pretty. Pyle's a CIA agent, a very high ranking one somemore, he can have any girl he wants, why would he want someone else's mistress? crap... Even if she's really pretty, can he accept that she doesn't love him with all her heart or that she was already screwing his friend like every day? And that she only likes him because he's got some money. crap...
Men are fuckers and women are whores.
Yea... The film portrayed all the Vietnamese girls as bloody SPG whores which sucks... And all the Westerners based in Vietnam as skirt chasing fuckers which sucked too... Yes, Pyle can claim that he loves Phuong and wants to marry her and yada yada, but in the end, he doesn't bring her back to America, he doesn't even tell her his real identity. When we say of love, it's just skin deep, I bet he just likes her exotic looks. Fowler can claim that he loves Phuong too and would marry her if not for his Catholic wife (really, this is one reason why I cannot stand Catholicism, it's so selfish by not granting divorces), he says he cannot live without her, but what does he really love of her? Probably only her sexual abilities.
I don't really know if that General The is a real person or fictious character, but I thought he reminded me of that jackass Diem, a self made general with American backing. I seriously am unable to tolerate the then American policy of "he may be a sonofabitch, but he's our sonofabitch". That Rhee guy from the Korean war was another sonofabitch.
But the character I liked most in the film was Fowler's assistant at the newspaper office. He's got all the contacts and a shady history and he's quite cool and cute. I think he's a communist.
A line I like a lot in this film was one of the earlier exchanges between Fowler and Pyle. It went a bit like this, I can't remember the exact words...
Fowler: What do you want to educate the Vietnamese?
Fowler: What is liberty?
Pyle: The freedom to choose.
Fowler: So, you give the Vietnamese the power to choose and they choose Ho Chi Minh. It's [Politics in Vietnam] not that simple.
This is also something I personally believe in. If you believe in liberty, then you should respect people's choice in believing in Communism.
In all, I gave it a 8/10 in IMDb because I hate the portrayals of the sexual habits of the people in there. Okay, I know it's realistic, but I guess I'm in sort of a fairy tale and self denial mood now so I want my prince charming and princess to be pure and innocent. bah~