1. Abishai1000

    Abishai1000 Member

    Oct 28, 2015
    Likes Received:

    Vietnam War Movies: Cimino/Stone (Film Study?)

    Discussion in 'Entertainment' started by Abishai1000, Apr 17, 2019.

    The Vietnam War was a very terrible time in U.S. history, since it tried every Americans' sense of patriotism. Vietnam was going through such a complicated and rough civil war and American troops arriving in that foreign land to help forces secure democracy against a communist threat was ill-timed and ultimately ill-fated(!).

    Unlike WWII or the Korean War or even the Gulf War, the Vietnam War was a post-Industrialization 'modern war' that requires all Americans to evaluate the values/ethos that America a superpower and global leader. The strains put on society and culture and politics by the Vietnam War gave rise to various forms of anti-establishment protest, war songs and poems, and even movies.

    While there are multiple/numerous poignant and symbolic Vietnam War movies, the two American films that really stand out as 'socially reflective' of American consciousness are arguably Michael Cimino's jarring The Deer Hunter (Robert De Niro) and Oliver Stone's engaging Platoon (Charlie Sheen).

    This Vietnam War film-making themed post is meant to ask the question if the Cimino/Stone 'axis' of war movies in America/Hollywood inspires tomorrow's writers and film-makers to examine closely if more academic approaches to 'wartime-folklore' (e.g., film studies courses in colleges/universities) are warranted and/or defining(!).

    What do you think?


    The opening sequences of Cimino's stark Vietnam War film about the emotional cost incurred on a symbolic American small-town certainly introduces audiences to the glaring humble honesty and work-ethic and companionship-ethos among a group of steelworkers/friends. As the friends prepare for the wedding of one of their buddies, they decide to go to the Vietnam War (as soldiers!) and make one last symbolic deer-hunting trip to reflect on their love of America. This first part of the film is a well-crafted presentation of the 'lifestyle-aesthetics' in American storytelling(!).


    However, once the war-sequences in Cimino's jarring film begin, audiences are immediately compelled to contemplate the stark shock and trauma of war and the Vietnam War in particular. Three friends are taken hostage in one sequence of the war timeline by an enemy group of Vietnamese soldiers and forced to play a terrible and haunting suicide-game, which they manage to escape thanks to the reflexive inventiveness of Michael (Robert De Niro). This suicide-game traumatizes one of the group, Nick (Christopher Walken).


    In fact, the entire Cimino film gives you the impression that experiencing the Vietnam War must have been one hell of a nightmare(!). I've had the great fortune of never having to participate in any real war in my lifetime, and I've enjoyed simply blogging/writing about American ideals and folklore and our general love of storytelling(!). Well, after seeing Cimino's rather 'lofty' exposition on the horrors of the Vietnam War, you wonder if America is great simply because it has 'lasted' through all kinds of cultural/psychological intrigue! In Cimino's film, all of the steelworker-buddies are in some way completely scarred by the experience of that terrible war, and we wonder if human negotiations regarding 'resilience-storytelling' are somehow linked to the psychology of survival(!).


    In the very morbid final portion of Cimino's film, Michael brings home the dead body of their town-prince, Nick (Christopher Walken) whom Michael failed to prevent from committing suicide in Vietnam. Nick was simply 'swallowed' up by the Vietnam War, and his friends/town mourn the loss of a great American young man. This is awesome film-making, but it's quite...haunting(!). This is why more formal inquiries into war-films seems appropriate for college students studying 'American diarism.'


    Now, if we look at the very very different Oliver Stone film (Platoon), we find a completely different tone if not a different sense of worry (altogether!). This film is narrated through the perspective of a daydreaming Vietnam War soldier named Chris (Charlie Sheen) who has to cope with all the arrogance, violence, and indiscretions of the Vietnam War(!). As Chris learns about the quality of trust and patriotism while thinking of writing letters home to his grandmother, we get the sense that Stone wanted us to think about the 'sentimentalism' of American storytelling. Is that what film-studies students at American colleges/universities should think as well about 'American patriotism'?


    Today, American kids are exposed to a plethora of images/cartoons/toys that exhibit our nation's valuation of patriotism, democracy-rhetoric, and even social imagination. We might buy for our kids symbolic/iconic patriotism-themed comics, toys, and/or movies that encourage them to foster their own sense of patriotic imagination(!). We must therefore consider why mature films made in America (e.g., The Deer Hunter) compel us to require educators to guide students towards a more holistic appreciation of 'patriotism-diarism'. After all, isn't that why we celebrate culturally-patriotic films such as Toy Story (Tom Hanks)?


    So consider what kinds of Vietnam War courses are offered by American colleges/universities that your kids want to attend and if they're fans of films/folklore, what kinds of film-studies/folklore courses will guide students to appreciating what really comprises 'American diarism'.



Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice