The Quiet American

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The Quiet American

The film The Quiet American takes place during the 1950’s in Vietnam. The movie illustrates the atmosphere of Vietnam previous to the Vietnam War and during the French occupation of the country. The main plot of the movie revolves around three characters: Fowler played by Michael Caine, Pyle played by Brendan Fraiser, and Phoung played by Do Thi Hai Yen. For the duration of the movie the three main characters are involved in a semi love triangle. This triangle and the emotions that the male characters feel towards Phoung begin to characterize the way they feel about the country of Vietnam itself. Vietnam becomes feminized, taboo, and sexualized just as Phoung does in Pyle and Fowler’s eyes.

The manner in which Fowler and Pyle struggle over Phoung represents the approach that Britain and America employed in their fight to “save” Vietnam from communism. Pyle’s’ intentions toward Phoung, although similar in some cases to Fowler’s, differ greatly at the same time. Both men view Phoung as a sort of object that needs to be saved or requires some sort of assistance in order to endure life. When Pyle falls in love with Phoung upon their first meeting, he decides that he must do whatever he can or whatever he deems necessary in order to “save” Phoung from a lowly existence. This is the exact same way that Pyle views Vietnam and its present condition. He wants to rescue Vietnam from what he believes to be unadulterated evil: communism. Pyle does this in a...

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