Culture: Drums of War and a Cautionary Tale; Brendan Fraser Speaks Softly but Makes a Big Impact in the Quiet American, Discovers Alison Jones

The Birmingham Post (England), November 29, 2002 | Go to article overview

Culture: Drums of War and a Cautionary Tale; Brendan Fraser Speaks Softly but Makes a Big Impact in the Quiet American, Discovers Alison Jones


Byline: Brendan Fraser

Making a film promoting the opinion that Americans would resort to terrorism in order to undermine an ideology they disagreed with is something of a risky proposition these days.

Which is why a new adaptation of Graham Greene's novel The Quiet American was left to gather dust on the production shelf in the months following September, 11.

But Brendan Fraser, the actor who plays the title role, says that whatever controversy its release stirs up, is worth it if it helps educate Americans about themselves 'It's what the movie should do. We're hearing the drums of war banging and if the film's political and social relevance here today doesn't make people look at the headlines on newspapers, then we're missing the point.

'We're not going to change the world but actors have the power to influence the way people think. We can definitely inspire conversation and that's a healthy thing.'

Brendan, who plays Alden Pyle, an aid worker in Vietnam in the early 50s, said it was only when he read the book that he began to gain some understanding of how the Vietnam War started.

'If you run an internet search on Vietnam and the war, most of the information you get begins at about 1962, which I think is telling because it is missing the whole period that led up to it.

'We've seen so many films showing the results of the Vietnam War, or as the Vietnamese call it, the American War. We've seen what it's like to be there in the jungle, with the hardships. I don't know one film that tells us how and why it occurred, except for The Quiet American. 'It was a debacle from start to finish. It shattered the lives of so many people, 58,000 American soldiers and three million Vietnamese died.

'When we made this, I hoped we would give people a sense of redemption when they saw it, but now, given world events and the terror of September 11, it has become a cautionary tale.'

On the surface Alden Pyle seems to be in a similar vein to the boyish heroes Brendan's played in earlier projects such as The Mummy. But as this is a story inspired by real events he is a far more complex creature.

'Graham Greene, as I understand it, was quite outspoken in his criticism of American foreign policy. …

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