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American Cinema And The Vietnam War

            Despite a common misconception that in its cinema of the Vietnam War Hollywood displayed a sense of realism and authenticity not seen before, the truth is more disturbing. A taboo subject for years, critics claimed that Hollywood's lack of films about the war was in-keeping with their aversion to controversial subjects. However, the 1980s saw the floodgates open and a flux of films followed. Whether these filmmakers wished to tackle a sensitive issue or not remains irrelevant to the fact that a series of Vietnam films came only after one had been profitably distributed, which feeds the sceptics argument that Hollywood's prime concern was, once again, the almighty dollar. The aim of this coursework is to assess how fairly mainstream American cinema dealt with the Vietnam War. I will focus my investigation on three films in depth, Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket and The Deer Hunter, but I will also allude to Oliver Stone's Platoon, and the often overlooked Hamburger Hill. For me these films represent a justifiable range of different approaches to the war to explain their inclusion, and will be looked at as representations of Vietnam, and judged accordingly. It is important I stress that I am not reviewing them as films. At various interludes I will draw upon information from Michael Herr's book Dispatches, critically accepted as the best book about Vietnam, therefore it should provide a good reference point when assessing these films authenticity. The Vietnam War was one of the most incisive sensations of 20th century world history, especially as it was the first time the U.S. had to leave a theatre of war as the loser. Evidently it will be fascinating to see what American filmmakers made of it:.
             Hey, start the cameras, this is Vietnam the movie!".
             Private Cowboy - Full Metal Jacket.
             Set in two clearly defined parts, Marine Boot Camp training at Parris Island, then the war itself, Full Metal Jacket was legendary director Stanley Kubrick's attempt at making the seminal Vietnam film.

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