un film de Coppola

I heard “Bonjour Vietnam” again last night…”un film de Coppola…”


It evoked psychedelic images and texture of horror (adapted from  Conrad’s Heart of  Darkness.) Yet we were sitting in a boutique studio, with aged ladies sang along to Le Uyen Phuong’ s Last Word to You , equivalent of Bono and Cher: “let’s lay down one last time, kissing and caressing as primates in the wild.”

To top it all, we were introduced to an Anglo singer who performed three numbers, two of which by Trinh Cong Son, Bob Dylan’s equivalent of Vietnam (Ha Trang and Diem Xua).

For a moment, I was unsure of where I was: America? Vietnam? What time zone was it? Good Morning America or Bonjour Vietnam?

Both sides have paid a hefty price for the conflict that tore both nations apart: the anti-war movement in the States and the still-have-work-to-do integration of  the new Vietnam. Unlike in “un film de Coppola”, Vietnam Today has to manage the ever rising expectations in a flat world.

“Just want to overtake Thailand” commented an engineering department head at a Community College. Well, at least on two occasions that I knew of, Vietnam did just that: SEA games, and rice exporting.

Tourism is still up for grab for both countries.

The upcoming two-week break will see a lot of domestic touring.

Vietnam will see an exodus of its people taking buses, trains, planes and automobiles, just as  American comedian  John Candy and Steve Martin portrayed two strangers met in a snow-stranded airport.  In Apocalypse Now, our main character also came home, with chopper roar in the background overlayed Sheen’s narration ” I have found the enemy and the enemy is us”.

Coppola ran over budget multiple times (Dennis Hopper was half-stoned during the entire shoot).  But somehow, it turned out to be one defining movie of that decade.  To juxtapose 2012  (with dooomsday written all over) with the images of Apocalypse Now is to be redundant.

Vietnamese growing up all over the world can relate to “Bonjour Vietnam” who was sung by a Vietnamese-French girl.  They are curious, but have no context for their immigrant legacy. To self-protect in our age of data deluge, they partitioned their hyphenated existence from their parent’s experience. But the more they try, the stronger the grip (which according to sociologists, will manifest fully in the third generation). Eventually, both generations will have to reconcile and negotiate a truce. In Vietnam, it’s peace time. It’s America who is still in the state of war or readiness for war.

Bonjour Vietnam. Happy New Year. Let my people go.. home. Let them read from the tablet. Hopefully on it we will find:  love God and your neighbors (far and near) as you would yourself i.e. fight not without , for the enemy,  as found in un film de Coppola, is us.


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