Far from Vietnam is unlike most omnibus films. For one, it’s stellar cast of directors comprised of firebrand Nouvelle Vague icons and rebels Marker (who held this audacious project together and also edited it), Godard, Resnais, Varda and Lelouch, along with photographer turned filmmaker William Klein and Dutch documentarian Joris Ivens; for another, the collaborators forsook individual authorship while contributing their sections (the ones by JLG, Resnais and Klein were discernible, though). The above aspects, along with a topic as bristling as this, were key to the film’s most striking facets – viz. its revolutionary fervour, dissent, anger, and staunchly anti-imperialist, anti-fascist and anti-war stance – and these were accompanied with formal flamboyance, unapologetic messiness, provocative agitprop, and crazy mashup of narrative content… stitching together segments made by spectacularly different artists, even if bound by their shared disdain for this dirty war, must’ve been one helluva task. And, given that raging anti-Vietnam War protests were still few years away, its release unsurprisingly evoked backlash from conservative, right-wing populace. Thus, over the course of its strangely captivating length, we witness the American war machine (the full nine yards); pompous lies by Gen. Westmoreland and others; speeches by Fidel Castro and Ho Chi Minh; fascinating footage of North Vietnamese street plays, rebels and war shelters; sombre interview with the wife of Norman Morrison who’d self-immolated in protest outside McNamara’s office in the Pentagon; defiant American peace marchers facing derision from reactionaries; metaphorical fictional interlude; irreverent comic strips; and well, a typically eccentric monologue by Godard on his decision to mention about Vietnam – the first war to be telecast “live” on TVs – in all his films, upon being denied permission to visit the country.
Directors: Chris Marker, Agnes Varda, Jean-Luc Godard, Alain Resnais, Claude Lelouch, William Klein, Joris Ivens
Genre: Documentary/Anthology Film/Agitprop