guerre du Vietnam dans Cycnos


Cycnos | Volume 21 n°2

La guerre du Vietnam dans le cinéma américain : suite… et fin ?

This paper analyzes four of the latest American ‘Vietnam movies’ (A Bright Shining Lie, 1998, Tigerland, 2000, We Were Soldiers, 2002, The Quiet American, 2002/2003) in the light of recent American political and social history. Two major questions emerge. First (and this is the usual question one poses when working on such movies) how do the ideological currents running through American society and politics show up in the films and inform them. Second, to what extent are these recent movies influenced by the ‘Vietnam movies’ of the past decades ? Is it possible to make such movies now without consciously or not referring to the inter (or intra) text made up of all the references, themes and mannerisms that have characterized such movies across the years ? In this perspective, can these recent movies add anything to what we already know about the war and its impact on the American psyche ?

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L’ennemi invisible : les Vietnamiens dans les films de guerre américains

This study is based upon Roland Barthes’s definition of « myth » as draining history of real content and turning it into intemporal « nature » for ideological purposes. Its object is the canon of Vietnam War films as a genre, from 1978 (The Deer Hunter) to 1994 (Forrest Gump), and representations or misrepresentations of the Vietnamese as an ideological stake. Two types of constructions seem to dominate the genre : an identification of the Vietnamese as essentially of nature, therefore negatively as wild and uncivilised, naturally sadistic and cowardly- effeminate, or else as ‘bon sauvages’, with an element of nostalgia, the country being construed as a lost paradise of missed opportunities symbolized by the fate of the mama-san and her offspring. These representations are not characteristic of Hollywood movies, they are an extension of the official doctrine of the sixties, and of wartime documentaries. In the eighties, the right wing thinktanks that backed the Reagan administration also consciously sought to regain lost ideological ground. Re-appropriations of the past allowed the staging of ceremonies of forgiveness which eventually paved the way to thankful oblivion.

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