How has the period of the Vietnam War been portrayed in film? Forrest Gump (1) (1994) (Robert Zemeckis)

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Kerri Warnock

Question 1

How has the period of the Vietnam War been portrayed in film?

Forrest Gump (1) (1994) (Robert Zemeckis)

This section of Forrest Gump shows little criticism of American involvement in the Vietnam War. It presents a ‘cosy’ view of the war by portraying it through Forrest’s innocent, uncritical, child-like eyes.

The film honours the army and portrays the soldiers as normal, decent young men who were doing their duty for America. Forrest’s heroic actions add a patriotic view to American involvement in Vietnam and make the army and soldiers look brave, loyal and chivalrous. Their innocence is also shown in their will to ‘get home’, creating sympathy for the US.

Although ‘cosy’ in its view of the War, this section is also slightly critical of US involvement. The music included is often songs by artists such as Jimi Hendrix, whose lyrics are associated with the anti-war movement in America. Forrest’s lack of knowledge regarding the Vietcong is suggestive to the lack of knowledge displayed by the whole army regarding the policy of containment.

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The conditions of war in the film are displayed as tough and the guerrilla warfare that takes place is shown to have a high human cost.

This section of Forrest Gump is only slightly critical of US involvement in Vietnam, but as it is shown entirely from the US perspective, it is a largely romantic and patriotic view of the army and the war.

Apocalypse Now (1979) (Francis Ford Coppola)

        Apocalypse Now has been made to show an anti-war view in the extreme. The film uses graphic scenes of war and the attitudes of soldiers to display the madness ...

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