One of the Vietnamese characters, a troop on an airplane, pretty much sums up the overall issue in Indochina: they didn't want outsider Russians and Chinese, nor did they want the outsider French unless the French granted them some autonomy (he used the much-overused phrase "democracy"). Later, the vast majority of them didn't want the outsider Americans, either. After the departure of WWII Japanese occupiers, French Colonialists, anti-communist Americans, Russians and Chinese, and after fighting yet another border war with China after the Americans left, Vietnam finally became a sovereign nation. Whew, what a long slog they had.
Many heroic and brave French military and Foreign Legion troops were sacrificed in Indochina and the film properly credits their bravery, with some well done military depictions.
The Americans ended up seeming rather two-faced to everyone, having at one time sided with the Vietnamese nationalists during and after WWII only to drop them, later supporting the French because they were anti- communist, only to just simply abandon the French along with any and all representations expressly made or implied to them. I mention this mainly because some one-sided American cold war jingoism is used to an almost laughable extent throughout the movie.
Diplomacy is given lip service but actually played an important part in all of the Indochina conflicts. A Geneva conference is mentioned, and in fact a later Geneva Agreement reached by U.S. Ambassador Averill Harriman in 1961/62 effectively ham-stringed subsequent U.S. actions in the region. Constant conferences went on for decades regarding the Indochina situation.
The lessons of the conflict depicted in this film should not be forgotten but I believe it is a travesty that the word "Colonialism" is not emphasized in the film or in most reviews and discussions of it. I prefer to remember this film as a jump into Colonialism, which is was.
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