|The Quiet American|
|Directed by||Phillip Noyce|
|Produced by||Staffan Ahrenberg|
|Written by||Christopher Hampton|
|Based on||The Quiet American|
by Graham Greene
Do Thi Hai Yen
|Music by||Craig Armstrong|
|Edited by||John Scott|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
The Quiet American is a 2002 film adaptation of Graham Greene's bestselling novel set in Vietnam, The Quiet American. It was directed by Phillip Noyce and starred Michael Caine, Brendan Fraser, and Do Thi Hai Yen.
The 2002 version of The Quiet American, in contrast to the earlier 1958 film version, depicted Greene's original ending and treatment of the principal American character, Pyle. Like the novel, the film illustrates Pyle's moral culpability in arranging terrorist actions aimed at the French colonial government and the Viet Minh. Going beyond Greene's original work, the film used a montage ending with superimposed images of American soldiers from the intervening decades of the Vietnam War.
Miramax paid $5.5 million for the rights to distribute the film in North America and some other territories, but it shelved the film for a year due to the September 11 attacks and the film's "unpatriotic" message. The film finally received an Oscar qualification release in November 2002 and went on to gross US$12.9 million in limited theatrical release in the United States. The film received positive reviews from critics and Michael Caine was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
The story is set in 1952 in Saigon, Vietnam (French Indochina at that time), toward the end of the First Indochina War (1946-1954) in which French forces fought the Communist-led Viet Minh rebels. On one level, The Quiet American is a love story about the triangle that develops between Thomas Fowler, a British journalist in his fifties; a young American idealist, supposedly an aid worker, named Alden Pyle; and Phuong, a Vietnamese woman. On another level it is also about the growing American involvement that led to the full-scale American war in Vietnam.
Thomas Fowler (Michael Caine), who narrates the story, is involved in the war only as a reporter, an unengaged observer, apart from one crucial event. Pyle (Brendan Fraser), who represents America and its policies in Vietnam, is a CIA operative sent to steer the war according to America's interests, and is passionately devoted to the ideas of York Harding, an American foreign policy theorist who said that what Vietnam needed was a "third force" to take the place of both the colonialists and the Vietnamese rebels and restore order. Pyle sets about creating a "Third Force" against the French and the Viet Minh by using a Vietnamese splinter group headed by corrupt militia leader General Thé (based on the actual Trinh Minh The). His arming of Thé's militia with American weaponry leads to a series of terrorist bombings in Saigon. These bombings, dishonestly blamed on the Communists in order to further American outrage, kill a number of innocent people, including women and children.
Meanwhile, Pyle has taken Fowler's Vietnamese mistress Phuong (Do Thi Hai Yen), promising her marriage and security. When Fowler finds out about Pyle's involvement in the bombings, he takes one definitive action to seal all of their fates. He indirectly agrees to let his assistant, Hinh (Tzi Ma), and Hinh's Communist cohorts confront Pyle; when Pyle tries to flee, Hinh fatally stabs him. Phuong subsequently returns to Fowler, and while the local French police commander (Rade ?erbed?ija) suspects Fowler's role in Pyle's murder, he has no evidence and does not pursue the matter.
The film earned positive reviews from critics, as it currently holds an 87% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 151 reviews, with the consensus: "Thoughtful and wonderfully acted, The Quiet American manages to capture the spirit of Green's novel."
The first rough cut was screened to a test audience on September 10, 2001 and received positive ratings. However, the September 11 attacks took place the next day, and audience ratings dropped with each subsequent screening. Reacting to criticism of the film's "unpatriotic" message, Miramax shelved the film for a year. It was finally screened publicly at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2002 to critical acclaim. The film received an Oscar qualification release in November 2002 and a limited release in January 2003.