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Gender Meets Genre in Postwar Cinemas$
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Christine Gledhill

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036613

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036613.001.0001

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Up Close and Personal

Up Close and Personal

Faces and Names in Casualties of War

Chapter:
(p.135) Chapter 10 Up Close and Personal
Source:
Gender Meets Genre in Postwar Cinemas
Author(s):

Deborah Thomas

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252036613.003.0010

This chapter explores the reverberating impact of the Vietnamese female rape victim in Casualties of War (1989). The film concerns a patrol of GIs who, during a reconnaissance mission, kidnap, rape, and murder an innocent Vietnamese girl, a story that is embedded in another story about how one of them, Private Eriksson (Michael J. Fox), who tried unsuccessfully to prevent these events, eventually brings the others to justice. The film invites audiences, irrespective of gender, into more diffusely feeling territory. It moves beyond melodrama's universalizing symbol of female victimhood. Haptic amplification of the close-up on the woman's face and insistence on her individuality through restoration of her name while diminishing the hero's attempt to bring justice, readjusts the conventional gender dynamics of the war film, converting melodramatic pathos—reassuring us of our own humanity—to discomfiture and shame.

Keywords:   female rape victim, Casualties of War, war films, gender dynamics, Vietnam War

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