Spike Lee has oscillated between deeply personal subjective stories to more commercial popcorn fodder (Do the Right Thing vs. Inside Man). He’s made flops and hits over his thirty plus years in the business. One never knows what to expect from him, which is exciting. His last three features have blended his subjective slant on America and race with commercial overtones to produce films with commercial appeal that also make a statement. Da 5 Bloods (2020) is no exception.
The film follows a group of black Vietnam vet’s in search of gold they buried in the Vietnamese jungle during the war. Each of the four men has grown and changed since they buried the gold in the early 70s. Once like brothers, they’ve all taken different paths since the fall of Saigon. On their quest, they encounter various obstacles that heighten the tension between them. They’re each haunted by their fallen comrade Stromin’ Norman who they lost in the battle to retrieve the gold. That day in the jungle they not only buried the gold but their friend as well. After several dark turns, they end up having an old-style ‘gun’s at high noon shoot up’ to protect their gold, their legacy, and their future.
Da 5 Bloods is steeped in classic Hollywood trappings.
It’s a story of a group of Americans who are not often represented in Vietnam
war films. It weaves in the civil rights and anti-war movement throughout the
narrative and includes a soundtrack laced with the music of the era. Marvin
Gaye fans will be singing along with the characters. Stripping the externals
from the film the heart of Da
5 Bloods concerns itself with
greed, guilt, camaraderie, and the albatross of America’s future. Liberty for
some, could be the poster tagline. It’s classically rooted in dramatic
traditions and universal at its raw emotional core.
i just remembered that time in 8th grade when my parents bought a book from my school library in my honor, and the librarian shamed me into never reading it, through sexism and racism.
so it was a thing my school did to raise money, like parents would buy a book for the school library, in honor of their child, and then the child’s name would be written inside the book. this book was about the vietnam war. my parents are from vietnam, having lived during the war era, so this was probably their way of trying to teach me about some of their history, since i actually knew very little about their past before they came to the u.s.
for context, i went to a majority white school. this might not seem relevant to the story, but i think this is the environment that fostered such interactions that traumatized me throughout my school years.
so i told the librarian (an older white woman) that i wanted to see the book my parents bought, and she pulls it out, and she goes “oh!…oh, it’s just…this books is for boys.”
so apparently only boys can be interested in wars. only boys can be interested in that part of history. that made me so ashamed and embarrassed, like oh my goodness, i can’t be seen with this book, because i’m a girl, and apparently this is only for boys. checkmark for sexism.
the librarian also failed to think that maybe there was cultural reason that i should want to read the book. this book explained part of my past, part of my family’s past, something that i didn’t know much about. but i guess the only people that could be interested in such a book would be history buffs (only boy history buffs, mind you). checkmark for racism. (or maybe just ignorance that other cultures outside of white exist)
let alone that she ignored the fact that my parents bought it for me, so obviously this was something my parents wanted me to read. so checkmark for ignorance? instead, she just made me feel bad about having my name inside the book. so i said i didn’t want to check it out. and in the rest of my five years at that school, i never read it.
to this day (i’m twenty now), i’m still confused about the vietnam war and how it worked. i know i can search it online anytime now. but here’s the thing: i’ve only recently gained touch with my cultural identity (something i used to be extremely ashamed of, maybe cause of instances like this), so i wasn’t as compelled to research this back then compared to now.
but i can’t help but thinking, maybe if that librarian hadn’t made me feel bad all the those seven years ago, maybe i would’ve found out more about something that impacted my family so much, and maybe i wouldn’t have been so ashamed of my culture for so long. maybe if that librarian hadn’t expressed such astonishment that a girl could possibly be interested in a book about war, then i would have realized, much earlier, that history is actually something i really enjoy (it wasn’t until my sophomore year in college that i realized i want to study it, even though it was clear the seeds had been planted much earlier in my life).
so yeah. that’s just something i remembered. i wonder what else i’ve forgotten.
The Journal of Patrick Seamus Flaherty, by Ellen Emerson White. Later reissued as Into No Man’s Land. My favorite journal in this series, largely because Patrick’s sense of humor easily translates to a modern audience. It’s the companion story to Where Have All the Flowers Gone? and regardless of which you read first, you will get spoilers of the other. As with its companion, this journal contains an extra disclaimer at the beginning and no author’s note.
One unique thing is that the acknowledgements gave the story behind the image used for Patrick’s cover portrait.
Random Soldier: I can’t believe someone so short has been admitted to the military.
Ned; Well, I can believe that someone like you cannot read.
Rando soldier: I’m going to kill you! ARRRRRG.
Ned: you failed. :)
Fist hit heavily count the wall.
Soldier randon: ufffff !! …. I hate you little Russian rat.
Your! Dwarf and miserable rat.
Ned: I that you … would heal those wounds …. you can have an infection. Oh … and by the way, they will look at me if I have something broken … such as … Dignity!
Random Soldier: Wait till I tell Sergeant Kern …
Ned freezes. O_O (oh shit! Oh shit, shit)
i did more
Some photos that i took in Bảo tàng Chứng tích Chiến Tranh
Independence Palace (Dinh Độc Lập), built on the site of the former Norodom Palace, is a landmark in Saigon, Vietnam. It was designed by architect Ngô Viết Thụ and was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was the site of the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975, when a North Vietnamese army tank crashed through its gates.