Radio Vietnam

Entertainment & Media => Vietnam War Movie Discussions => Topic started by: Huyen on March 07, 2007, 07:43:48 PM



Title: Movies
Post by: Huyen on March 07, 2007, 07:43:48 PM
HMMMMM.  There is this section here for talking about VN war movies, but most of the movie discussions take place elsewhere.  Well, I was just thinking about a movie that was not on the favorite's poll, but is a nice VN war story none the less. 

A green beret named Jim Morris wrote a couple of books about his experiences in the VN war.  I have read "War story" and will eventually get around to saying something about it.  But he also wrote a short story that became, of all things, a Disney movie.  The movie is called "Operation Dumbo Drop".  And supposedly it is based on a true story of the VN war.  Not something you would expect to find as the backdrop in a Disney film.  I don't think I will play spoiler here and tell about the film.  But I mention it because the theme of this story is believeable, to a point :)   The US undertook so many different, non military, programs to try to impact the lives of the RVN people.   From the everyday, to the unusual and bizarre.  This is the story of a Montegnard tribe that needed an elephant and what some soldiers had to do to get them one. It is a cute story, and sometimes even mildly suspenseful.  A little corny, but well worth a rental. 


Title: Old Movies
Post by: Huyen on March 10, 2007, 05:41:37 PM
I have read "Buddha's Child" By  Nguyen Cao Ky, former Air Marshall, Premier, and later Vice President of the Republic of Vietnam.  Upon the collapse of RVN Ky, like so many other VN, fled and ultimately took up residence in California.  In California he was forced to start life over again, and one of the things he did was open a small convenience store.  In the book he relates a story from those times.  Forgive me if I don't remember the exact details, but the anecdote goes something like this:

A man walks into Ky's store and brings a few items to the counter to pay.  Ky notices that the man is wearing a worn military field jacket with patches on it indicating service in Vietnam.  Ky asks the man about this, to which he replies that he was a Marine and had served near the DMZ during the war.  The two talked briefly about the war, and then Ky thanked the man for his service to VN and did not charge him for the items he wanted to buy. 

The former Prime Minister of Viet Nam encounters a vet many years later and in a whole different world but is appreciative and thanks him for his service. 

So why is this post under Movies?  Well, I am a little of an old movie buff.  In today's cable, blockbuster, netflix world movies from every era are at our finger tips.   Movies from all times are now readily available.  And one old movie that I think was very good was called, "The Magnificent Seven", staring Yul Brynner, James Coburn,  Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach, and Charles Bronson.  In this movie 7 gunfighters go south of the border to protect a small village that is being fleeced by bandits, and all but three get killed. 

At the end of the movie there is a scene where an old villager is talking to the remaining gunfighters before they leave.  Again, forgive me if I get these details wrong as it has been a while since I saw the film:  The old man thanks the gunfighters for their help, and tries to explain why more of the peasants in the village do not say the same.  He says they are poor and humble people.  All they know is the sun going up and the sun going down.  The time for planting, the time for harvesting, the time for praying.  But there has never been a time for saying thank you.  So they don't know how to.  For if there had been they would know how, and they would say thank you properly.  But as it is, they must return to the thing they know, and that is the fields. 

I think many in the VN diaspora (living outside of their homeland) are the same way.  They are a humble and demure people.  It is a subject not easily talked about, and they don't really know how.   But like General Ky, it is how they feel and would say so if they could happen upon a way, just as he did. 


Title: Re: Old Movies
Post by: RadioResearcher on March 10, 2007, 07:38:19 PM
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And one old movie that I think was very good was called, "The Magnificent Seven", staring Yul Brynner, James Coburn,  Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach, and Charles Bronson.

As is generally known among film history buffs, this was a recreation of Akira Kurosawa's Japanese original film, Seven Samurai.  Although the stories were quite similar, elements of each depiction were adapted to the respective cultural settings.  A number of films have used the theme of ambiguous, marginal heros, or even anti-heros, stepping in to risk everything for virtual strangers, thus balancing the scales with pure evil, meting out a rough justice, and enobling or redeeming themselves in the process, or in death.  These have included Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch and A Fistful of Dollars, the original spaghetti western which put Clint Eastwood on the Hollywood map (and based on yet another Kurosawa film, Yojimbo).  I had the pleasure of showing the Eastwood film (all three of his spaghetti westerns, actually) as an after-hours movie projectionist for my unit in Chu Lai.  Americans who served in Vietnam were a mixed lot, too - some there as professionals, many drafted as citizen soldiers.  All did their duty in defending the freedom of virtual strangers, as many Americans have done so often in history.  All acquitted themselves well in spite of ambiguous and uncertain circumstances.

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I think many in the VN diaspora (living outside of their homeland) are the same way.  They are a humble and demure people.  It is a subject not easily talked about, and they don't really know how.   But like General Ky, it is how they feel and would say so if they could happen upon a way, just as he did.

A neighbor of mine is one of the VN diaspora.  He had an opportunity to assert his appreciation of the legacy of freedom by joining with his neighbors in speaking before our city council recently.  Our well-used neighborhood park facility was in danger of the budget-cutting ax during a period of economic downturn.  I was proud to stand in the well of the city council chambers with him to utilitze our jointly-held freedom of speech.  We prevailed and neighborhood children continue to benefit from the recreational faclities that we helped, together, to preserve. 


Title: Re: Old Movies
Post by: Huyen on March 11, 2007, 09:22:33 PM
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As is generally known among film history buffs, this was a recreation of Akira Kurosawa's Japanese original film, Seven Samurai.  Although the stories were quite similar, elements of each depiction were adapted to the respective cultural settings.


OK, I said I am a little of an old movie buff.  I should have said I occasionally watch old movies.   :-[

The only thing I know about Kurosawa is from the Barenaked Ladies,

"Like Kurosawa I make mad films
Okay I don't make films
But if I did they'd have a samurai"

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A number of films have used the theme of ambiguous, marginal heros, or even anti-heros, stepping in to risk everything for virtual strangers, thus balancing the scales with pure evil, meting out a rough justice, and enobling or redeeming themselves in the process, or in death.
 

Did I mention that I occasionally watch old movies?

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These have included Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch and A Fistful of Dollars, the original spaghetti western which put Clint Eastwood on the Hollywood map (and based on yet another Kurosawa film, Yojimbo).

I prefer "Once upon a time in the west" as my spaghetti western pick  Was that based on Kurosawa too? 

Clearly I have dived in over my head in the realm of film discussion here.  Did I mention that I may have seen an old movie at some time.  Maybe on late night TV? 

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I had the pleasure of showing the Eastwood film (all three of his spaghetti westerns, actually) as an after-hours movie projectionist for my unit in Chu Lai.


Did you tell them about the Kurasawa connection?  Or perhaps the threat of a sand bag mattress keep you from the film school lesson?   :lol:

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Americans who served in Vietnam were a mixed lot, too - some there as professionals, many drafted as citizen soldiers.  All did their duty in defending the freedom of virtual strangers, as many Americans have done so often in history.  All acquitted themselves well in spite of ambiguous and uncertain circumstances.

I believe that this statement is correct.  Obviously there will always be the odd example out, but all told, the American service personnel acquitted themselves in keeping with historical precedent.  In fact, maybe even better than historic precedent. 

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A neighbor of mine is one of the VN diaspora.  He had an opportunity to assert his appreciation of the legacy of freedom by joining with his neighbors in speaking before our city council recently.


Unfortunately the concept of "city council meeting" left VN with the last helicopters from the roof tops.  These are things that should not be taken for granted. 


Title: Re: Old Movies
Post by: RadioResearcher on March 11, 2007, 10:03:40 PM
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Did you tell them about the Kurasawa connection?  Or perhaps the threat of a sand bag mattress keep you from the film school lesson?

GAAAH!  !  I get it!  :think:  Maybe my class In "Heros and Anti-Heros in Japanese and American Film:  A Comparative Analysis" wasn't such a good idea after all!


Title: Re: Old Movies
Post by: Huyen on March 11, 2007, 10:25:31 PM


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GAAAH!  !  I get it!  :think:  Maybe my class In "Heros and Anti-Heros in Japanese and American Film:  A Comparative Analysis" wasn't such a good idea after all!

Not at all.  Don't get me wrong.  But I am in entirely over my head.  I really don't know anything about Japanese films.  Nor Japanese culture.  However, that doesn't mean it wouldn't be interesting if I saw some K movies.  I will look into this.  But I am sure it would not have gone over very well with the troops  :lol:

I have been listening to Weimar Radio, and explored further and found some Ragtime.  This live 365 radio is a fascinating thing.  I am glad that I found it. 


Title: VN War Movies
Post by: Huyen on March 12, 2007, 08:04:01 PM
I have been very busy lately, so I don't have the time to make some longer posts on books (Don't everyone get too excited), so I think I will make some short posts about movies.  Although I will usually make a literary connection with my comments on the films. 

John Wayne and the movie "The Green Berets"   :lol:

I have read in the book, "War Stories of the Green Berets"   by Hans Halberstadt, that Green Berets who actually were in the remote A camps in VN think this movie is largely accurate about what it was like.  They say that Wayne's Rank of Colonel was inaccurate for the things he did in the movie, but the events were reasonable in their portrayal.  They say that most of what Wayne did would have been done by NCO's not officers.  I guess we cannot fault Wayne too much for not being demoted any lower than to colonel  :lol:

Obviously the special effects and realistic movie making of today did not exist in the sixties.  So if you are into the flash bang effects and big budgets of today's films then this may not appeal to you.  But I liked this film very much.  For what it said, for the fact that Wayne made it with his own money, and that the Vets in similar actual situations say it is "pretty much as it was". 

Of course, SSgt Barry Sadler's song that was the theme, "Ballad of The Green Berets" is a moving song.   Which you can hear right here on Radio VN. 

"Back at home a young wife waits
Her Green Beret has met his fate
He has died for those oppressed
Leaving her his last request

Put silver wings on my son's chest
Make him one of America's best
He'll be a man they'll test one day
Have him win the Green Beret"


de Oppresso Liber



Title: Heart of Darkness
Post by: Huyen on March 13, 2007, 09:46:36 PM
I have read "Heart of Darkness", by Joseph Conrand.  Conrad is a famous Polish Author who wrote mostly about tales of the sea.  There is a nice memorial to him in the Port City of Gdansk, Poland.  Most people think he is British because he spent most of his life on English ships.  Heart of Darkness is loosely based his experiences as a Ferry Boat captain on the Congo river in colonial Belgian Congo.  So what does that have to do with us?

Apocalypse now is the film adaptation of this book.  Francis Ford Coppola adapted the story to the Vietnam war.  As the book is an indictment of the Belgian colonial experience in the Congo, I suspect that Coppola intended the film to be the same of the American involvement in Vietnam.  In the sense that the film is an adaptation of the book, I find it an interesting interpretation.  Of course, there are differences.  In the book they are trying to find Kurtz, but not kill him.  He is an ivory trader, not a soldier, etc.  But a lot of the themes are still there.  The useless colonial administrators who are only trying to enrich themselves.  The pursuer (Marlow or Willard) becomes the keeper of Kurt's memory.  Kurtz has gone crazy, becoming God-like among his natives.  The senseless brutality of the imperialists, etc. 

Despite what I might think of Coppola's message in making this film there is no denying, as with Oliver Stone, that he is a good film maker.  Coppola brings to the film things we don't get to see elsewhere, such as Riverine operations.  Nice to see the brown water Navy get it's 15 minutes of fame.  And the Cav boys will tell you that the assault on the VC village is about as accurate a film depiction there is of an Airmobile combat assault (sorry, I don't remember what CAV sources I have read this in, but I have). 

The movie has many funny moments in it, probably intended as irony.  The Americans wreaking havoc and distruction for no deeper purpose than to go surfing.  Mindless violence.  The quiet peaceful village with families tending to their work while children go to school, until the Big, Bad Americans arrive.  This depiction doesn't sit very well with me, given what the VC did to Children who went to government schools (which I have discussed elsewhere). 

There are very powerful images in this film.  Very well depicted scenes.  And an interesting adaptation of Heart of Darkness.  I think it is good entertainment and has nice historic visuals.  I think it is best viewed on a superficial and artistic level.  In it's attempt to be surrealistically thought provoking, it is somewhat mind numbing. 

My last thoughts are about Apocalypse Now Redux.  The DVD version where they added in a lot of scenes that were not in the original cinema version.  My feeling is that these scenes were best left on the cutting room floor.  They add nothing to the film.  They just make it longer, and more boring.  They are probably intended to add to the underlying message of the film, but really they are yawners.  The movie is best viewed in the original format, not redux. 

In fact, I think the movie is best (either version) up to the point where they get to the Do Lung bridge.  After that it becomes more surreal and less entertaining.  But this is probably true to Conrad in this respect.  A journey upriver surrounded by a hostile jungle.  Symbolizing the journey through the deepest recesses of our subconscience.  In other words, our Heart of Darkness.   


Title: Re: Movies
Post by: RadioResearcher on March 16, 2007, 07:43:44 AM
Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse was a life-imitates-art documentary of the "making of" Apocalypse Now.  It continued the theme of a trip upriver, in revealing the surreal twists and challenges of Coppola's production of the film in the Philippines.  Built around home movies made by Eleanor Coppola, Francis' wife, it traced the physical and psychological descent into hell of the film maker.  Like everything else in Hollywood, it was more than anything driven by money concerns - as storms destroyed expensive sets, actors showed up late (like the bloated and unprepared Marlon Brando) or had heart attacks in mid-production (Martin Sheen), and the Philippine government became uncooperative.  When the money ran out, Coppola start infusing his own.  With no end in sight, including an inability to come up with a suitable ending, he began to become desperate and psychotic - and this is shown in the documentary.  Another bizarre sight is the director coaching a (literally) drunk Martin Sheen in the Saigon hotel room scene.

This is probably a piece only of interest to those who have an interest in film-making, and doesn't compare to the hardships of the real war, but it shows how the heart of darkness can also be the heart of creativity.


Title: Apocalypse Now
Post by: Huyen on March 18, 2007, 03:05:29 PM
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Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse was a life-imitates-art documentary of the "making of" Apocalypse Now.  It continued the theme of a trip upriver, in revealing the surreal twists and challenges of Coppola's production of the film in the Philippines.


In fact I have seen this.  I am not sure where though.  Perhaps it was on the Hitler Channel.  However, it was very interesting.

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Like everything else in Hollywood, it was more than anything driven by money concerns

Wouldn't that be true of everything in life?  We all have to pay the bills. 

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Another bizarre sight is the director coaching a (literally) drunk Martin Sheen in the Saigon hotel room scene.

You sure that wasn't an episode of the "West Wing"?   :lol:

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This is probably a piece only of interest to those who have an interest in film-making, and doesn't compare to the hardships of the real war, but it shows how the heart of darkness can also be the heart of creativity.

I find this kind of thing interesting, although I would not consider myself a film buff of that caliber.  As for creative genius, I would hazard a guess that many of those who have great creative talent are a little off, and even sometimes down right mad.  Often these two go together.  I guess this is how the minds of these people are able to see things that the rest of us cannot. 


Title: Re: Apocalypse Now
Post by: RadioResearcher on March 20, 2007, 06:33:47 PM
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Like everything else in Hollywood, it was more than anything driven by money concerns
Wouldn't that be true of everything in life?  We all have to pay the bills.
 

True, but I was not trying to re-state a truism.  My point is that so much of the Hollywood engine is money.  Most moviegoers who put their few bucks down to see the magic, the glitz, the star quality, the sheer entertainment value of the finished product don't tend to think of it as a business.  The "art" is a distant second priority in the studio system (thus spawning the vibrant, if low-no budget, indie community), but it sometimes re-emerges from the money machine.  I do think the clash between money concerns and the director's passion-turned-psychosis made for an interesting impressionist view of the war which emodied a lot of fundamental truths (one example not often mentioned:  only the Americans could stage the big-time USO production in the middle of a war - so true, and we loved it - see attached).

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As for creative genius, I would hazard a guess that many of those who have great creative talent are a little off, and even sometimes down right mad.  Often these two go together.  I guess this is how the minds of these people are able to see things that the rest of us cannot.
 

A little madness is a liberating thing that allows the imagination to exercise beyond the conventional limits.  Even small-time actors I have hung with are a little nuts.


Title: Re: Apocalypse Now
Post by: Huyen on March 21, 2007, 08:44:40 PM
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True, but I was not trying to re-state a truism.  My point is that so much of the Hollywood engine is money.  Most moviegoers who put their few bucks down to see the magic, the glitz, the star quality, the sheer entertainment value of the finished product don't tend to think of it as a business. 


Oh, this is very true.  I know a few film enthusiasts who think it should all be about the art.  But they pay their bills too  :lol:

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The "art" is a distant second priority in the studio system


Yes, but art has always needed a Patron.  Thus the most significant art of the Italian renaissance has a religious theme.  Only in these days of the National Endowment for the arts do we try to forget that art is like any other commodity.  To bring in money to pay the bills, someone has to buy the art.  And for them to buy the art they have to like it.  Whether that be the church, or the person who shells out eight bucks to see the Fast and the Furious.  I must admit, I like the artistic side of movies.  I don't want to think about the business side of it.  I much prefer the creative and artistic side.  But an economist I know would take away my computer if I didn't recognize the hard economic facts.   We all have to pay the bills.  And we make the money to do that by selling a product, service, or labor that someone else has a desire to buy.  Even the artist does this. 

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(thus spawning the vibrant, if low-no budget, indie community),


Differrent cost structure with different hurdle rates.  So they can afford to appeal to a niche market.  Can you tell I had a business education?  And now aren't you happy that I prefer to study art?   :lol:

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I do think the clash between money concerns and the director's passion-turned-psychosis made for an interesting impressionist view of the war which emodied a lot of fundamental truths (one example not often mentioned:  only the Americans could stage the big-time USO production in the middle of a war - so true, and we loved it - see attached).

Oh yes, all those big shells lining the stage.  I think Coppola was familiar with Lysistrata. 

But seriously, I think the USO shows must have been very important to the soldiers.  I read one book where the soldier put in for a 6 week extension just so he could make the Bob Hope show.  His thinking was that it was a once in a lifetime thing for him to be able to see.  A Bob Hope USO show!  And then there is Martha Rae.  I didn't know who Martha Rae was, until her name started turning up in books all over the place.  A comedian that did the USO shows.  Apparently she was all over VN during the war.  Even in harms way out in the boonies.  Just read that the Marines loved her for that.  And the Green Berets even made her an honorary Colonel.  Gotta love that breed of entertainer. 

Why are the photos no longer in the posts?  Have we had a change?  All the old photos are gone now too.

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A little madness is a liberating thing that allows the imagination to exercise beyond the conventional limits.  Even small-time actors I have hung with are a little nuts.

Isn't there some saying about the company we keep is a reflection of ourselves?  Just so long as you don't hang with people who cut off their body parts.   :lol:


Title: Re: Apocalypse Now
Post by: RadioResearcher on March 21, 2007, 09:04:54 PM
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Why are the photos no longer in the posts?  Have we had a change?  All the old photos are gone now too.

I brought this to Nixie's attention, but he doesn't know for sure.  I believe he has put a query on the product users forum. 

I need my visuals on a daily basis or I really go into withdrawal!   :twisted:


Title: Re: Movies
Post by: =[Nix]= on March 22, 2007, 01:25:34 AM
Pics should be there...not sure why they're not showing up... One of the things I noticed on a few other sites is that they show up as small thumbnails and you click them and they magically resize to the correct size... which I think is  the default but I've went through settings a few times and it ain't happenin' for some reason.  One of the things I want to add as well as the annoying text beside the smilies that wasn't there before! heh  But those are fairly minor compared to the last time I attempted to upgrade the forums.  I'll try to get on it this weekend. :D


Title: Re: Movies
Post by: Huyen on April 17, 2007, 06:09:39 AM
Recently I was at a friend's house and caught an old Gene Hackman movie on cable.  I forget what the name of the movie was, and I really didn't think the movie was good.  It was about some conspiracy to kill the Soviet Premier because he was going to sign an agreement with the American President that would end the Cold War and get rid of nuclear weapons. It was a pretty flimsy plot in my opinion.  Anyway, that is not what I was thinking about this early morning when I cannot sleep. 

I was thinking about a scene where the Gene Hackman character is in trouble because the conspiracy is hunting him down to eliminate him, so he seeks out a Police Officer to help him.  Someone whom he had known long ago.  When he explains the situation to the cop and asks for his help the response went something like this,

"I don't find it amazing that you are mixed up in this.  What I find amazing is that I haven't seen you in 20 years and you come in here asking me to believe you and get mixed up in something strange and crazy like this as if the year we spent together in Vietnam makes all the difference in the world and because of this I will help.  Of course it does make that difference and I will help, and that is what is hard to believe." 


Title: Re: Movies
Post by: RadioResearcher on April 17, 2007, 05:43:00 PM
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as if the year we spent together in Vietnam makes all the difference in the world and because of this I will help.  Of course it does make that difference and I will help, and that is what is hard to believe."

Some bonds are never to be broken. 


Title: Re: Movies
Post by: PaulAdams on August 25, 2008, 05:35:16 PM
Hi RR.
It's been a while since I wrote my last post here.
However, I watched a movie that I've always heard a lot bad about it: Hamburger Hill.
I must admit that I've seen some other movie about that period which were more direct or simply better directed.
Anyway I've been surprised that some aspects of this movie just touched me deeply.
Beyond the plot I found basically ture the interaction between characters. The fact that you know people from different places of your country in such a situation, that made a lot of guys there establish a special bond which is more than friendship and looks more like a family tie. Seeing this, broken anonimously day by day, as a soldier discovers that the guy by his side he started to know so better, is gone, really touched me. Nothing about the fighting per se, but I found overwhelming this simple truth.
I don't know if I explained correctly why I liked Hamburger Hill, but I guess that only someone who's been there can understand that.
For that I loved this movie.

 :)


Title: Re: Movies
Post by: RadioResearcher on August 25, 2008, 06:18:47 PM
However, I watched a movie that I've always heard a lot bad about it: Hamburger Hill.
Anyway I've been surprised that some aspects of this movie just touched me deeply.
Beyond the plot I found basically ture the interaction between characters.Nothing about the fighting per se, but I found overwhelming this simple truth.
I don't know if I explained correctly why I liked Hamburger Hill, but I guess that only someone who's been there can understand that.
Paul --

I think I understand your point.  I don't fully understand the phenomenon myself, by there is something shared there that can't be denied, even 40 years later.  This is true for both combat and non-combat vets.  I am going to be talking to my small detachment's former security clerk this weekend.  I'm not sure we even met while I was there, since he was rotating out as I was rotating in.  It doesn't seem to matter.  It is an experience, and a memory thereof, that can best be understood by those who were there.

Anyway, I am not surprised that you, as the poet, were impressed by this in the film.

-- RR


Title: Re: Old Movies
Post by: Huyen on July 10, 2009, 08:22:16 PM

As is generally known among film history buffs, this was a recreation of Akira Kurosawa's Japanese original film, Seven Samurai.  Although the stories were quite similar, elements of each depiction were adapted to the respective cultural settings.  A number of films have used the theme of ambiguous, marginal heros, or even anti-heros, stepping in to risk everything for virtual strangers, thus balancing the scales with pure evil, meting out a rough justice, and enobling or redeeming themselves in the process, or in death. 

Hey RR,

Last night I finally watched the Seven Samurai.  I also listened to the commentary to get the cultural context.  You were right.  It is a very good film, and given the time it was made it was quite innovative.  It seems that quite a few directors thought enough of Kurosawa to emulate him. I guess I will have to see if my Lackluster Video has more of his films. 

 (http://cdn3.kongregate.com/user_avatars/0053/8020/Samurai_Smiley.gif)


Title: Re: Old Movies
Post by: RadioResearcher on July 11, 2009, 11:13:39 AM
Hey RR,

Last night I finally watched the Seven Samurai.  I also listened to the commentary to get the cultural context.  You were right.  It is a very good film, and given the time it was made it was quite innovative.  It seems that quite a few directors thought enough of Kurosawa to emulate him. I guess I will have to see if my Lackluster Video has more of his films. 

 (http://cdn3.kongregate.com/user_avatars/0053/8020/Samurai_Smiley.gif)
BANZAI !!! - or, if you prefer, in the the Zen sense . . .
"May the waves of realization lap at you gently."  Hey, that's not bad!  :lol:

-- RR