At the time that the film was set, the French had withdrawn from the Indochina colonies in 1954, paving the way for the entry of the Americans. During the Second World War, Ho Chi Minh organised the Vietnamese resistance to the occupation of the Japanese in Vietnam. In 1945, Vietnam was declared an independent country. However, this independence was modeled on the US’ 1770s declaration. America was determined to end the rule of the French in Indochina. However, the nation retreated after consistent pressures from the British, which was motivated to maintain its own empire. In 1945, the incoming US president, Harry Truman, did not favor the independence of the French colonies.
The president was greatly angered by the support of Ho Chi Minh given that he was supporting a communist discourse. Thus, he looked forward to strengthening the role of the French in the anti-communist alliance within Europe. The US provided assistance, including military aid, with the aim of facilitating the return of the French to Indochina. Also, American ignored the pleas that the Vietnamese advanced for independence. In 1950, the Korean anti-communist broke out and America solidified stepped up its military assistance to the French. The motivation was to ensure that the Viet Minh organisation, which was being aided by the Soviets and China, succumbed to defeat. Within two years, America had used immense resources in military assistance. It is from these events that The Quiet American was set.
Fowler reaction to Pyle’s statement and his suggestion
After Pyle’s statement about democracy, it is apparent that Fowler is disappointed. Such disjoint originates from his experience. According to him, democracy is a mental concept and as such, it does not exist. Fowler goes ahead and tells Pyle that if the Vietnamese held democratic elections, there was a high chance that they would select Ho Chi Minh as they believed that he was in a better position to unify their country (“The Quiet American”).
The outcomes of Fowler going to Phat Diem and patrols with the French Soldiers
After he goes to Phat Diem and patrols with French soldiers, Fowler sees many dead bodies dumped in a ditch. The French soldiers, represented by their Lieutenant, put the blame on “bad luck.” However, Fowler is disheartened by the art of war. He thinks to himself that faith is entirely useless at times of war (“The Quiet American”). This is after he looks at the holy medal that one of the victims had worn. From this incidence, Fowler vocalises about his hate for war.
General Thé, and his relationship with Pyle’s/the U.S
He is a renegade commander. His title, general, is a self-proclaimed one. He is supposed to be the “Third Force.” Pyle had collaborated with “General The” in detonating a car bomb, which killed many innocent civilians (“The Quiet American”). They do this in an attempt to bring the so-called third way in Vietnam. The third force was a political movement, which was against both the communist and colonial discourses.
The three most important characters include Pyle, Fowler, and Phuong. Pyle’s role is that of an antagonist. His attitude represents that of the Americans. He is motivated to bring a third alternative to Vietnam. In an attempt to force his way, Pyle is even willing to hurt innocent civilians. In this regard, he wants to institute his option at the expense of everyone. Fowler’s attitude represents those of Anglo-European and colonialism. He believes that the people of Vietnam should be self-governing. However, super-powers should provide checks and balances. To symbolise this attitude, Graham is motivated to secure the safety of the Vietnamese. He is averse to war and instead, he favors constructive dialogue. Phuong, on his part, represents the attitudes of the Vietnamese. She symbolises Vietnam’s motivation to secure safety through powerful nations. There are those nations that want to exploit Vietnam while others intend to protect it.
- The Quiet American. Dir. Phillip Noyce. Miramax Films, 2002. Film.