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Heaven & Earth - Oliver Stone Collection
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I also found the scenes where Le Ly returned to Vietnam after liberation a bit cheesey and sentimental and the film omitted the fact that this journey, in reality, was much more dangerous and unnerving. In fact Le Ly did not even return to her village, Ky La, on this trip, nor did she return with her children! There was so much more that Stone could have made of this storyline, the section of the book which I found the most remarkable and fascinating.
In addition, the film also left out details of the relationships within the family, for example, between Le Ly and her father and her brother, which incidently were forgotten about during the movie. It didn't explain what happened to her family throughout the course of the war. Other aspects of Le Ly's earlier experiences with the Viet Cong were also omitted and I feel that much more could have been made of these storylines.
However, apart from these critcisms, I still thoroughly enjoyed the movie and Stone, having fought in the war himself, portrayed the country from a moving and realsitic angle. In fact the film portrayed Vietnam (although it was not filmed in Vietnam) as a beautiful and attractive place where I would love to visit.
My final point is that those who enjoyed the movie should read the book, as it is much more intense and is unreservedly compelling.
Almost-true, because her amazing story needed to be condensed into a two and a half hour feature film. Three men became one, years became weeks and vast sections of her life were neatly trimmed away. This is understandable in any biographical film, but the result her is not so fluid as in other movies of this type. Also, an odd decision was made to film the movie entirely in English, except when interacting with American soldiers when they slip into a sort of broken English. Having the film be in Vietnamese, with subtitles, would have made for a more authentic experience.
Tommy Lee Jones' character, the three men condensed into one, jumps too quickly from Hero to Monster to Victim, and one seeks for the core of his character in the movie. Who is he? It is difficult to tell. Hiep Thi Le as Le Ly is also confusing, at one minute the innocent, wide-eyed girl looking to be loved and the next a sophisticated businesswoman who is willing to sacrifice everything for success and money. As seen in "Evita," this kind of transformation isn't impossible to tell but here it doesn't seem honest. One looks for the sophisticate in the peasant or the peasant in the sophisticate, and doesn't find them.
In spite of these criticisms, there is enough right about "Heaven and Earth" to make the film enjoying and captivating. Telling the American/Viet Nam war from the point of view of the Vietnamese people is a jarring juxtaposition, and something I have never seen done before.Read more ›
Oliver Stone is an excellent director, and features of the movie such as light and camera angles and the movement of the camera are excellent. The acting is good too. Tommy Lee Jones has an impossible role, but in each scene he is convincing. Hiep Thi Le's role is also impossible, and she is not bad. Those who have read the book will be happy to see Le Ly Hayslip herself playing the jewelry dealer in the middle of the movie. The soundtrack by Kitaro is fair, although my personal tastes disagree.
The problem is that Le Ly Hayslip's story, upon which this movie is based, is too complex for a two hour movie. Tommy Lee Jones' character is an amalgamation of three men, and the result is nothing if not schizophrenic. So many scenes are too subtle for most people to understand, although the book makes everything clear. Compacting her remarkable life (the movie is based on two books!) into a feature-length movie is just impossible, and on an emotional level the film nearly fails.
Let me push the books once more. Even if you are not a reader, When Heaven and Earth Changed Places, by Le Ly Hayslip and Jay Wurts, will pull you along. It is one of the very best books I have ever read. The sequel, Child of War, Woman of Peace, is also pretty good. I strongly encourage you to read especially the first book. Like I said, the movie is fine, but the book is simply incredible. It is the only book that has ever made me cry.
The story revolves around Le Ly Hayslip (Hiep Thi Le), she is her father's favourite child and the centre of attention in her family. During the film's stunning first hour, her village will be visited by members of the Viet-Cong and representatives of the Southern government, both spreading propaganda and both capable of unspeakable brutality. As Vietnamese the people of the village are more sympathetic to Veit-Cong, and indeed Le Ly's two brothers go to fight for the north. But Stone wisely avoids making heroes of the Veit-Cong, in one particularly harrowing scene they rape Le Ly because of her detention by the southern forces. Heaven and Earth is more concerned about the tragic effect of the war on Veitnam.
As the war goes on Le Ly is forced to be a street vendor in Saigon, where she meets a gentle American man Steve (Tommy Lee Jones). His attraction to Le Ly however is not so much love, as it is a desire to be forgiven by all "Orientals" as he calls them. But Le Ly desperate and poor is blinded by his kindness and togather they go to America to start a new life as a married couple. It is here that film looses its footing, Steve's behaviour is explained by the script, but his transformation from a gentle man to a confused and angry one is so rushed, it is inexcplicable. The film does recover in the powerful closing scenes set in Vietnam.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A great movie about the Vietnam War, and the problems faced by GIs when they returned to the States. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Thomas W. Brown
Great movie...I love Tommy Lee Jones in this movie...Keep up the good workPublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
This movie is based on the memoirs of a young Vietnamese lady that lived through a tumultuous time in Vietnam,and the movie is sometimes narrated by her, showing a totally... Read morePublished 2 months ago by TexasJeff
Should have had an Academy Award!
Finally an excellent and accurate depiction of the treatment of Vietnamese women and families by American G.I.s. Read more
Purchased this movie for my mother. She enjoys watching this movie as well as, "The Joy Luck Club," which I purchased at the same time as this one.Published 3 months ago by Justin R. Miller
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