Sad Song of Yellow Skin

Sad Song of Yellow Skin

| 58 min

A film about the people of Saigon told through the experiences of 3 young American journalists who, in 1970, explored the consequences of war and of the American presence in Vietnam. It is not a film about the Vietnam War, but about the people who lived on the fringe of battle. The views of the city are arresting, but away from the shrines and the open-air markets lies another city, swollen with refugees and war orphans, where every inch of habitable space is coveted.

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  • director
    Michael Rubbo
  • script
    Michael Rubbo
  • narrator
    Michael Rubbo
  • producer
    Tom Daly
  • camera
    Martin Duckworth
    Pierre Letarte
  • sound
    Pierre Letarte
  • editing
    Torben Schioler
    Michael Rubbo
  • sound editing
    Les Halman
  • re-recording
    George Croll
    Michel Descombes

Sad Song of Yellow Skin
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  • Bob3

    If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t go to Vietnam. My moment-to-moment work with the kids was great and the project had wonderful things about it. But I felt complicit in continuing the war. In essence we were participating in the war. We were keeping these kids alive, but eventually they had to go into the army and become soldiers. You do this project and help kids and they survive to go to a bloody massacre. I don’t know how many died. I remember one time a woman working in a refugee camp told me, “I don’t think what I’m doing is useful. I don’t think what I’m doing is helping the Vietnamese. We bring them into the camps and turn their villages into free fire zones.” I said, “Well, why don’t you stop?” She said, “I can’t because I need those feelings I get from giving things to people.” I said, “Okay, that’s fine, that’s pretty honest. But do me a favor. When you go back to the United States and people ask you what you were doing, don’t say you were helping the Vietnamese people.” Dick Hughes - Salon April 2015

    Bob3, 24 Jan 2016
  • mekongjack

    I have been showing this incredible film for about 40 years. I have shown this to high school students and then later on to Penn State students in world history classes and then later on in my Vietnam History course. It is a film of incredible metaphors, shock and all with the interaction with the shoeshine boy (low camera angle)with the towering G.I. reneging on the deal. "Keep your money!" by the Vietnamese shoeshine kid. The unwritten message was, "I don't want your money and don't come back!" In many ways this film is a microcosm of Vietnamese history, a small country caught between major powers, prostituted themselves, but still proud and standing independent and fighting back against foreigners, whether they be Chinese, French, Japanese or Americans. Unlike some of the foreign powers before us, a few Americans with an old fashion missionary zeal want to help and save Vietnamese. As Dick Hughes said, we could only reach a certain level of understanding and trust, cross-culturally. It was very hard to cross that great divide! Dick Hughes was one of those who tried and came close and later on in life was appreciated by the shoeshine boys whom he took in. Back in the late Sixties, many of us naive Americans went tho Asia, trying to understand it at a deeper human level, rather than in war. In my case I was in the U.S. Peace Corps, others joined I.V.S. ( a non-governmental volunteer organization), as well as many other great volunteer non-profit groups. When you live at the lifestyle and economically of the locals, you get to appreciate the daily struggles of people you work with. Jack Miller

    mekongjack, 17 Mar 2012

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Sad Song of Yellow Skin , Michael Rubbo, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

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