The Quiet American & Quiet Anti-Americanism

My wife and I saw The Quiet American, with Michael Caine, last night on DVD. As far as plot and acting go, the movie was excellent–Michael Caine was nominated for an Academy Award. As far as anti-Americanism goes, the film was brimming with it. The film is based on Graham Greene’s novel by the same name, which was why I originally picked up the DVD. I had read Greene’s The Power and the Glory, and I thought this film might also grapple with some difficult themes.

Grapple with difficult themes the film does, but it ends up portraying as historical some rather imaginative events. Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that the movie takes the position that the United States was instrumental in “engineering” the need for a war in Vietnam.

The anti-Americanism throughout the film is subtle, however—focusing on an American character rather America itself. The DVD’s extras are another story. The disc contains a “Vietnam Timeline,” which purports to give a history of the Vietnam War—apparently for the benefit of those who want to understand the historical situation of the film.

The timeline is chock full of anti-American sentiments. In one frame, the timeline says, “Despite the fact that Ho Chi Minh is not anti-American, nor evidence found that his working for the Soviet Union, he is condemned for being a communist.”

How sad that someone’s communism is denounced! How many times have you heard this same satement with Sadaam Hussein in place of Ho Chi Minh, and al-Qaeda in place of the Soviet Union? Surely this timeline was written by some of the same “intellectual elite” who condemn everything that America does today. In the film this disgust of the United States is veiled. In the DVD extras, the true viewpoint of the producers is unveiled.