Thursday, December 23, 2010

1968 - THE GREEN BERETS, John Wayne's right wing fantasia on Vietnam and Communism

The Green Berets was a controversial film when it was released in 1968, the country was very divided by the Vietnam War and super right wing patriot John Wayne was looking to rally audiences with what was a piece of political propaganda.  Wayne's approach was to redo the same type of war film he had made during World War II in films like, The Fighting Seabees or Back to Bataan.

Wayne also seemed to be channeling his film The Alamo at certain times with a heroic group of Americans defending their base from the onslaught of the enemy.  Wayne even repeated a lot of the same camera setups that he had used in The Alamo during the climatic siege. 

A very old fashioned film in its outlook.  Wayne focused on the cost of life for both the United States soldiers and the Vietnamese people, but the film had a larger purpose.  Wayne an ardent and vocal anti-communist wanted to push his political point of view regarding the danger of a complete communist takeover of the world.

Today we can look back at this film and find that line of thought to be rather laughable.  However the reality, was that our government's main reason for involvement in Vietnam was to contain communism.  Wayne wasn't very far off in articulating the United States Government's involvement in Vietnam, although in John Wayne's case he was about as subtle as a sledgehammer.

The Green Berets was a very obvious propaganda piece first and foremost.  The characters and situations are all in support of driving home the anti-communist theme. There's  the liberal reporter who sees the light, the cute Asian kid adopted by the soldiers, the simple village people of Vietnam tortured by the Vietcong and NVA, it almost never ends.  The film has so many ridiculous lines and situations, it seems like it should be better known today as a cult film masterpiece.

What The Green Berets lacks is action scenes.  The film has one large scale battle towards the middle of the film that finally shows up, after a long haul through lots of scenes of political proselytizing.  After that's over we have to sit through a secret mission that Wayne and his troops go on that adds nothing but length to a very overlong film.

It's very easy to laugh at the anti-communist theme 40 years later.  However you could easily remake The Green Berets, by replacing the communists with Muslems, and still end up with the same kind of reactionary film that came out in 1968.

141 yes that is Mr. Sulu, minutes.

1 comment:

long live rock 'n' roll said...

Why did they have to kill off Sulu.