Inventing Vietnam

The War in Film and Television

Edited by Michael Anderegg
Book Cover

PB: $36.95
EAN: 978-0-87722-862-2
Publication: Oct 91

HC: $79.50
EAN: 978-0-87722-861-5
Publication: Oct 91

Ebook: $36.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-0107-6

295 pages
5.5 x 8.25

Testimony of the unique relationship between the U.S.-Vietnam War and the images and sounds that have been employed to represent it

Read an excerpt from Chapter 1 (pdf).


The Vietnam War has been depicted by every available medium, each presenting a message, an agenda, of what the filmmakers and producers choose to project about America's involvement in Southeast Asia. This collection of essays, most of which are previously unpublished, analyzes the themes, modes, and stylistic strategies seen in a broad range of films and television programs.

From diverse perspectives, the contributors comprehensively examine early documentary and fiction films, postwar films of the 1970s such as The Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now, and the reformulated postwar films of the 1980s—Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, and Born on the Fourth of July. They also address made-for-television movies and serial dramas like China Beach and Tour of Duty. The authors show how the earliest film responses to America's involvement in Vietnam employ myth and metaphor and are at times unable to escape glamorized Hollywood. Later films strive to portray a more realistic Vietnam experience, often creating images that are an attempt to memorialize or to manufacture different kinds of myths. As they consider direct and indirect representations of the war, the contributors also examine the power or powerlessness of individual soldiers, the racial views presented, and inscriptions of gender roles. Also included in this volume is a chapter that discusses teaching Vietnam films and helping students discern and understand film rhetoric, what the movies say, and who they chose to communicate those messages.

Table of Contents

Introduction – Michael Anderegg
1. Hollywood and Vietnam: John Wayne and Jane Fonda as Discourse – Michael Anderegg
2. "All the Animals Come Out at Night": Vietnam Meets Noir in Taxi Driver – Cynthia J. Fuchs
3. Vietnam and the Hollywood Genre Film: Inversions of American Mythology in The Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now – John Hellmann
4. "Charlie Don't Surf": Race and Culture in the Vietnam War Films – David Desser
5. Finding a Language for Vietnam in the Action-Adventure Genre – Ellen Draper
6. Narrative Patterns and Mythic Trajectories in Mid-1980s Vietnam Movies – Tony Williams
7. Rambo's Vietnam and Kennedy's New Frontier – John Hellmann
8. Gardens of Stone, Platoon, and Hamburger Hill: Ritual and Remembrance – Judy Lee Kinney
9. Primetime Television's Tour of Duty – Daniel Miller
10. Women Next Door to War: China Beach – Carolyn Reed Vartanian
11. Male Bonding, Hollywood Orientalism, and the Repression of the Feminine in Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket – Susan White
12. Vietnam, Chaos, and the Dark Art of Improvisation – Owen W. Gilman, Jr.
13. Witness to War: Oliver Stone, Ron Kovic, and Born on the Fourth of July – Thomas Doherty
14. Teaching Vietnam: The Politics of Documentary – Thomas J. Slater
Selected Bibliography
Selected Filmography and Videography
The Contributors

About the Author(s)

Michael Anderegg is Professor of English at the University of North Dakota, and author of two other books: William Wyler and David Lean.


In the Series

  • Culture and the Moving Image edited by Robert Sklar

    The Culture and the Moving Image series, edited by Robert Sklar, seeks to publish innovative scholarship and criticism on cinema, television, and the culture of the moving image. The series will emphasize works that view these media in their broad cultural and social frameworks. Its themes will include a global perspective on the world-wide production of images; the links between film, television, and video art; a concern with issues of race, class, and gender; and an engagement with the growing convergence of history and theory in moving image studies.