Friday, June 2, 2023

Vietnam post-traumatic syndrome: a hundred films with the conflict as the main character

It was among the largest military defeats of the United States Army and the most traumatic war in American public opinion history. It plunged thousands of citizens into the Vietnam syndrome, a feeling of defeat and helplessness that American society suffered in the 1970s and early 1980s after defeat in the Vietnam War.

In the United States, there have been 58,159 reported cases and more than 700 are missing. Thousands of disabled, amputees, paralytics, and mental health problems are left behind during the war, as are thousands of soldiers with widespread drug addiction.

For many, it was the first televised war in history. They were media speakers for those who lived 14,000 kilometers from the United States. Chilling images of a naked girl running from napalm flames; or a photograph of a Saigon police chief shooting North Vietnamese guerrillas in the head marked public opinion at the time.

Such was the media pressure and social rejection that it served to cause the US recession in 1973. On March 29 of that year, 50 years ago today, the withdrawal of the last 4,300 soldiers who fought in Vietnam ended.

The inequality of the fighters did not help: many of them were young, poor and black. Most of the people who fought in that war were from the lower and middle class. College students who were fully enrolled could not join the ranks, that is, those who could afford an education were spared. This, which many saw as a useless war, made many armaments in the fields.

The hippie movement, Martin Luther King’s fight for civil rights and dissuading citizens was the perfect storm to create a deep trauma that still lasts through time. It’s a thorn in the side of many Americans that they can’t shake, but far away, out of the more than 100 movies that exist about the conflict, about 80 are American.

The war began in 1955 and although it ended in 1975, Samuel Fuller’s The Red Door, the first war film, was released in 1957. The years followed each other with films of all genres, from dramas to romances or even action films. The war continued and films were released, both from Vietnam in 1959, 1966, 1969, and from the United States of America: Paul Bogart’s Olly Winter’s Final War in 1967 or John Wayne and Ray Kellogg’s The Green Berets in 1968

There are so many films about Vietnam that even a comedy about it was released on the big screen when the war didn’t end. Captive Soldiers (1969) by Bruce Kessler tells the story of Danny and Elliot, who escape military service by posing as gay.

Most of the American films that were made were civilian, but some added a romantic touch. Richard Rush’s Straight Road (1970), starring Harrison Ford, tells the story of a Vietnam War veteran who returns to college and joins a protest movement to win back his girlfriend.

Edwin Sherin’s My Old Man’s Place (1971) was one of the films that immortalized the consequences for the millions of soldiers who served in the war. In it, two soldiers return from Vietnam with serious psychological problems and decide to stay a few days at the country house of one of their fathers, with a psychotic sergeant who also served in Vietnam.

After the departure of the troops in 1975, films about the conflict did not stop growing. In the same year, the United States of America adapted several film editions: 4 in 1978, 4 in 1984, 8 in 1987, 7 in 1988 and 5 in 1989. They dealt with different types of events that happened or were on the battlefield. at which time the war was chiefly or secondary to intrigues.

The first film after the end of the competition saw the light of day Robert de Niro, Meryl Streep or Christopher Walken. Michael Cimino’s The Sniper (1978), which won the Oscar for Best Picture, tells the story of three friends who dreamed of being in the military and will see their lives change radically when they return home after serving in Vietnam because they cannot forget the strangeness at the front.

Without further ado, First Blood (1982), the first film in the famous Rambo saga, tells the life of John Rambo, a Green Beret veteran who fought in Vietnam, who, like so many others, is featured in many films. The conflict is complicating civil life and error in the United States.

The Pentagon Papers (2017) by Steven Spielberg is one of the most famous films that depicts the Vietnam War or everything that lies behind it. The film recreates the Nixon Administration’s legendary battle with The Washington Post (the original title is The Post) over its secret Vietnam War coverage.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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