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DU Classic Film Discussion for 09/20/06 "The Sand Pebbles"

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BigMcLargehuge Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-20-06 12:32 PM
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DU Classic Film Discussion for 09/20/06 "The Sand Pebbles"
Release year - 1966
Director - Robert Wise
Starred - Steve McQueen, Candace Bergen, Richard Attenborough, Richard Crenna, and Mako (among others).

This is one of my all time favorite films, such that I have avoided reading the novel upon which it was based for fear of sullying my love for the cinematic version. The last thirty minutes of the film are incredibly hard to watch. Questions to consider:

Is the film an allegory for US involvement in Vietnam?

Does the San Pablo "represent" the United States. It was a documented fact that US sailors on Chinese duty at this time often employed "coolies" to do the lions share of the work on their gunboats. These sailors lived almost like colonial lords, as portrayed in the film, but could it also be an allegory for US foreign policy in the post-war years and in doing so, by proxy, represent the colonial/capitalist/nationalists of Chang Kai Chek's nationalist party or those of the US government or both?

Does the film effectively display America's poor showing during the post WW1 Imperial period in the far east, or is this merely an exploration of a "new" nation entering the world stage as a world power?

Does the fact that the crew sacrifices itself (mostly) to rescue the missionaries display racism, i.e. they didn't intervene Po-han's "death of 1000 cuts", or intervene actively in the war between the Nationalists and Communists.

Does Frenchy Bourgoine's death represent the death of liberalism in foreign policy, or the triumph of love over duty? (He dies after contracting an illness following his AWOL where he goes to see his secret Chinese wife).

Finally, does Jake Holman know he's going to die when he sends his last two shipmates and Candace Bergen back to the ship?

Answers welcome.
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Courtesy Flush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-20-06 12:41 PM
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1. That all makes sense
When I was a kid, I think it was 1967, my family saw that movie in a drive-in theater in San Diego, and it's been a perrenial favorite ever since. I still order it through NetFlix out of nostalgia every once in a while. It's amazing how many people have never seen this truly great movie.

I never really looked for the symbolism, because it seemed not so much symbolic, but literal. We got the welcome we deserved in China, and in Viet Nam.
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BigMcLargehuge Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-20-06 12:48 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. I just watched it again, commercials and all, on AMC
and I couldn't help but write about it.
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