Necessarily dated but still a fascinatingdocument, this collective protest against the Vietnam war begins with a graceful ballet of bomb-loading and take-off preparations aboard an American carrier, contrasted with shots of civilians in Hanoi hurrying to patheticallyinadequate improvised shelters. Suspected Vietcong sympathisers are beaten up; peace marchers in America are confronted by counter-demonstrators shouting 'Bomb Hanoi!'; General Westmoreland appears reassuringly on TV to state that 'Civilian casualties do not resultfrom our firepower; they result from mechanical errors'. All good, stirring stuff, edited into a remarkably coherent whole by Chris Marker. But the film goes on to probe the ambiguity behind the protest. Inherent throughout (but explicitly explored in fictional interludes directed by Renais and Godard) is the dilemma that, although this was 'the first war everyone can watch' and all of us were involved, the very remoteness (in every sense) of the conflict carried inevitable obfuscations. There is a certain amount of navel-gazing here, but at least the film acknowledges the sense of impotent frustration shared by many in trying to decide what to do.
Cast and crew
Alain Resnais, William Klein, Joris Ivens, Agnès Varda, Claude Lelouch, Jean-Luc Godard
Michèle Ray, Roger Pic, KS Karol, Marceline Loridan, François Maspero, Chris Marker, Jacques Sternberg, Jean Lacouture, François
Fidel Castro Jean-Luc Godard Resnais episode Bernard Fresson