Skip to Content

The Vietnam War As Public Spectacle

Bottom-up Collective Drama or Top-Down Atrocity?

It may be impossible to do what Burns and Novick set out to do, heal the dissonances and the wounds of the Vietnam War. Veterans and citizens may end up like the two protagonists in Bernardo Bertolucci’s great five-hour epic 1900, a saga about the right and left in Italy from dawn on January 1, 1900 when two babies are born to 1976 when the film was made. In the final scene, after 76 years of struggle, the landowner’s son (Robert DeNiro) and the son of the estate’s chief peasant (Gérard Depardieu) are shown walking into the distance down a railroad track. It’s a comic scene, making it a bit hopeful. They are verbally abusing each other and beating each other with their canes.

Meanwhile, as Jan Mieszkowski says in the epigram, peace continues to be an anomaly.

story | by Dr. Radut