Tuesday, April 07, 2009

"Hearts and Minds" and visual language.

An interesting discussion on technique regarding Peter Davis' Vietnam war documentary, Hearts and Minds which won a 1975 Oscar appeared in April 6th Newsweek. Here, he's discussing the thinking behind the juxtaposition of images:
"Let's take the most explosive cut in the film: the one where we go from General Westmoreland saying, 'The Oriental doesn't put the value on human life that we do in the West," to the little Vietnamese boy weeping at his father's funeral. If you put Westmoreland next to a shot of American soldiers in Vietnam, it gives the impression that all of them believe what Westmoreland says, which isn't true. If you put it next to stock footage of the French in Indochina, you give the impression the whole thing has been a racist campaign, which also isn't entirely true. I thought Westmoreland's quote should be juxtaposed with a scene of what the wages of war actually are. It's always, first, about death when you go to war. And the people who the most dying in Vietnam were the Vietnamese."

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