Two Huge Pieces Still to Read

27 08 2008

A strange history of Vietnam: the history of the Vietnam War through film 

ABSTRACT: History is being taught by film and as a result many people obtain an “Impression” of history and learn incomplete or in some cases biased history. This is especially true for the Vietnam War, where war films have been used to create a form of history termed “Impressionist history.” This historical theory is explained in the context of a two other contemporary historical phenomena called epimethianism and reflectivity. Epimethian history occurs when the historian, who in this work is generally the filmmaker, applies contemporary values and ideas to the past. Reflectivity is a property of historical documents and narratives, including films that describe the degree to which the historian or filmmaker has inserted epimethianism into their analysis of the past. This work tells the history of the Vietnam War through selected films. It then deconstructs each film according to historical accuracy, epimethianism, and reflectivity.




The Kubrick Corner

Kubrick’s films all provoke their share of polarized opinions, from extravagant praise to nay saying, with a lot of bewilderment in between. It’s always been this way. His films have almost invariably provoked confusion and/or controversy upon their initial release, only to see their reputations improve with the perspective afforded by time. I can think of no other modern filmmaker working remotely in the neighbourhood of the mainstream commercial cinema whose films so merit and reward a second, third or fourth viewing, and whose work always seems richer and more satisfying when returned to. (…)

Kubrick’s “form as content” approach reaches it’s zenith with “Full Metal Jacket”, where content begins to war with the film narrative itself. If “Jacket” is a story about man’s duality, this theme is reflected in a film structure that is likewise dual in nature. This doubling permeates every technical and artistic aspect of the film, literally on a scene-by-scene basis.

And it’s this unique coupling of form and content (or form-as-content) that marks Kubrick as a particularly Modernist artist. His refusal of irony as a legitimate end in itself, distances his work from Post-Modernism. For all the scathing insight and, yes, irony in his work, his vision as an artist is a passionate and moral one.


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