US, 1985, 99 minutes. Colour.
Amy Madigan, Ed Harris, Ho Nguyen, Donald Moffat, Truyen V. Tran.
Directed by Louis Malle.
1. A piece of Americana of the 1980s? Universal message? The background of the Alamo, Texas, the Mexicans, American freedom? In the aftermath of the Vietnam War?
2. The film based on a true story, experience, fear, prejudice, the war and consequences?
3. Louis Malle, his French background, the New Wave in France, documentary maker, his sensibilities, vision?
4. The location photography, Texas, the town, the bay? Authentic atmosphere of homes and boats, the Vietnamese community and settlement, restaurants, hospitals? The detail of the lifestyle, the different ways of the Vietnamese and the American-born? The musical score of Ry Cooder?
5. The opening, the introduction to Dinh, his walking, hitchhiking, the group, their reaction, his response, kind, the ingenuous young man going west? Waving the flag? The lift, his experience?
6. The introduction to Alamo Bay, its look, the people, their experience, sharing, the crises, racial conflict, financial difficulties, the final confrontation? The experience of American prejudice, needs, bitterness? Predicting the future or not?
7. Dinh in himself, his going to Wally, Wally and his employing the Vietnamese? Dinh wanting to be alone, meeting the community, setting up his own business?
8. Shang Pierce and his story, his background, native to Alamo Bay, his age and experience, marriage, the three children, his boat, the difficult times for trawling, his boat to be repossessed, his anti-Vietnamese? His wanting to start an affair with Gloria? The villain of the piece – with the touch of American villainous stereotypes? Contrasting with the heroic Vietnamese man?
9. The Vietnamese, the boycotts against them, the Ku Klux Klan meeting in the bar, the plans?
10. Shang and Gloria, Gloria wanting to help him, asking her father for the loan, refusal? Shang and his becoming suspicious of Gloria?
11. Shang and his losing the boat, going trawling, the crabs, cutting the Vietnamese pots, the sense of ownership of this part of the town, establishing the flotilla to set sail against the Vietnamese?
12. The Ku Klux Klan episode, the burning cross? The Vietnamese leaving?
13. Wally, a good man, his life and work, open to others, the hostility of the town, his difficulties, the protests, his heart attack, hospital, Gloria and Dinh going see him? His death?
14. Gloria and Dinh, the business, breaking the blockade, Dinh and Ben on guard?
15. The firebomb attack, Ben’s death, Shang and his clash with Dinh? The fight, Gloria’s arrival – and shooting Shang?
16. The perception of the 80s, ten years after the end of the Vietnam War? The situation in later decades – and the influx of Mexicans and Latin Americans?