Cinerama: Paint It Black III

Posted: September 11, 2009 in Cinerama

Paint It Black III

By Mike Derderian

There was a time when I wanted to be a soldier; however, after realizing that some freedom fighters are nothing but killing pawns placed on a killing board, I decided I would prefer to hold a pen than a rifle. It is much easier to tear an ink-stained piece of paper packed with logical scribbling than to snuff a life out of a man, or is it the other way round.

It was like playing chess on your own, which never sounded logical either, just like the urge to kill, usurp, convert and force foreign laws by people suffering from avarice upon us Arabs.

I hate knives, guns, rockets, airplanes, tanks and any machine that can be used to crush liberty’s bones into naught. There she lies naked, molested entreating for a divine justice upon the evil doers, whom dared and defiled her virgin existence. “Wish I had Pandora’s box so that I can send it to Malice and Vice but alas the box was long open upon mortals,” the saddened Liberty sighed.

What did the Americans achieve in the Vietnam war other than planting mines and fuel a raging fire with the bodies of thousands of fervent freedom fighters and innocent civilians, who at times did nothing more than defending their own land.

According to statistics from the Landmine Monitor website (, between 15 and 20 percent of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) from the Vietnam war are said to remain. Between 350,000-800,000 tons of war-era ordnance are believed to be still buried in Vietnamese grounds. The Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF) has cited Ministry of Defense sources as stating that “three million antipersonnel” landmines remain in Vietnam’s soil where all 61 provinces are affected, in addition to major cities.

“Every war has a silver lining, meaning that someone is bound to profit from the misery and unhappiness of people. Notwithstanding the blood drenched pennies and dollars, they pull poor blankets over their sailors laying them to rest in a ground soiled by their own profanities.”

Pretty gloomy, huh? Well this is what happens when you paint life black, so let us brighten the image a little bit, especially that we finally came to the end.

The 1987 Good Morning Vietnam, directed by Barry Levinson, is the only comedy flick spun around the most tragic of wars in American history that a person can swallow without choking on triviality and nonsense. What makes it a worth watching film, also, is the flow of events that brilliantly shift from funny moods and comic antics adlibbed by Robin Williams—who happens to be one the funniest American comedians and funny people in the World—to the soar and bitter reality notes of war.

Williams’ vocal talents and hard core comedian spirit helped in creating one of the most loveable cinema personalities, based on the real life of Adrian Cronauer, a radio Disk Jockey (DJ) who was stationed in Saigon during the Vietnam War.

A year later, and thanks to his brilliant portrayal of the rebellious DJ that was so believable and good, Williams earned his first Oscar nomination for best actor in a supporting role. The comedian lost to Michael Douglas’ Gordon Gekko in Wall Street.

Nevertheless, in later years the comedian-turned-serious was nominated three times; finally nipping an Oscar for best actor in supporting role for Good Will Hunting in 1998.

Supported by Forest Whitaker, Tung Tanh Tran, Bruno Kirby, JT Walsh, Richard Portnow, Noble Willingham, Robert Wuhl and Chandra Sukapatana as Trinh Cronauer’s love interest, our DJ finds himself stuck between two wars.

The first war comes to sight when Cronauer’s funny delivery on the airwaves of the radio station in Saigon infuriates his conservative superior Lieutenant Steven Hauk (Kirby). “We have difficulties with locating the enemy, it is very hard to find a Vietnamese named Charlie, They all named Nugyen or Tran,” shouts out an officer character portrayed by Cronauer himself. “What are you going to do about it?” Adrian Cronauer asks anxiously. “We are going to walk up to everybody and ask ‘if you’re the enemy?’ and everyone who says ‘yes’, we shoot them.”

The second war rages on when he befriends Tuan (Tran), the brother of Trinh, whom despite of Cronauer’s friendly advances to his sister and his attempts to accustom himself to the traditions of the Vietnamese people still apposes the American way of life. “Five months in Vietnam and my best friend is a VC (Viet-cong), this will not look good on a résumé!” Cronauer exclaims.

Good Morning Vietnam is more than a comedy of errors spun around a spiteful war that claimed a lot of lives—and for what? It is the story of how the illusion of irony and humor supposedly can strike the thinnest of chords, not only wrapping our hearts but the hearts of those fainthearted soldiers shooting at injured people lying on holy grounds dead at sight. So, all I can further add is “good night Vietnam and good morning Iraq,” this was DJ Mike-Behind-the-Mic, wishing you a very good morning, live from The Star Cinerama Studio. Over and out.

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