Re: '95 Vietnam films
Tue, 30 Jan 1996 13:36:01 -0500

Course if we're going to dip further back into film history and the western
in particular as Ben Friedlander and Ryan Stanley so ably do, I think another
sleeper of a Vietnam film is Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch."

Dating from 1969, "The Wild Bunch" a great angry Vietnam text: William
Holden is a leader who keeps fucking up and losing men. The wild bunch
decide to fight on the side of Mapache against Zapata and his insurgents.
Finally conscience strikes when their Kit Carson scout, Angel (too much!),
is tortured by Mapache and his ARVN forces. Finally in a guilty conscience's
wet dream they go up against tremendous odds to be shriven.

re:> > The opening scene [of First Knight] to me recalled not the village of
Cam Ne but the
> classic Indian raid on a frontier outpost -- fiery arrows, war whoops
> and the whole bit. Then there's Lancelot (Richard Gere), the cowboy-type
> hero who's 'handy with a sword', as the scrolling intro tells us, just
> as the archetypical frontier hero is handy with a gun. Like the
> gunfighter, he's at bottom an individualist, a loner, occupying a highly
> ambiguous relationship to established authority, but he reluctantly
> allows himself to be drawn into the fight to save the 'good people'.
> There's the obligatory ambush -- savages swarm down, with reckless
> disregard for the own lives, on an unsuspecting stagecoach/royal
> carriage and its attendant outriders -- from which hero rescues woman
> the first time. Then there's the obligatory captivity scene, from which
> he rescues her again. The ending is classic western, even if the roles
> are switched around somewhat: savages defeated in a final battle,
> Lancelot joins civilisation, and Arthur's funeral pyre floats off into
> the sunset.
> The movie seems to be an attempt to time-warp back to the pre-Vietnam
> period when narratives could be structured in this way in order to
> affirm American righteousness. Ryan Stanley

> Along these lines, I've been struck at how strangely prophetic a film
> _The Searchers_ is. (It came out about two years after Dien Bien Phu.)
> A twisted prophecy, since Wayne's unrepentant Confederate (i.e., a
> soldier who fought on the losing side) is a "Vietnam Vet" even before
> he goes "In Country."
> Ben Friedlander

R Fertel