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The novel The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen has won the Pulitzer Prize for its masterful representation of the events, intriguing plot, and the protagonist, who arouses confusing feelings of the audience. This work resembles a confession or a memoir and represents the main hero, or the anti-hero, who recollects the past and tells his story to the readers. It has to be stated that this novel is perfect for the cinematographic adaptation, as it includes different scenes in various parts of the world. Moreover, the film could help the audience to perceive the protagonist in a right way. Despite the fact that he performed the role of the spy, this man is not just a wicked person, but an individual, made to experience severe difficulties, which have shaped his personality and transformed his vision of the world. In order to understand how a successful motion picture can be created, narrative perspective, framing, camera angles, background music, as well as the cast, and stage decorations of the film have to be considered and analyzed.
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Regarding the narrative perspective, the first thing that has to be considered is that the length of the movie will be 100 min, which is enough for rendering all the details and showing the true personality of the main character to the audience. The film should start with a short historical preview, which would present the fall of Saigon, the Viet Cong, and the North Vietnamese forces to the viewers. It is essential for the audience to grasp the gist of the conflict. The novel The Sympathizer shows the stories of the members of South Vietnamese forces. After the representation of the background, it is worth portraying the meeting of the protagonist’s Vietnamese mother with a French priest. In approximately three minutes, the viewers should observe the beginning of their relationships, their marriage, and the birth of their son. It should be admitted that such details always produce positive effect on the audience. The viewers become aware of particular intimate details from the life of the main hero, and it increases their interest in the work. It is particularly essential to show the childhood of the narrator to the audience. In order to understand the actions, committed by the main hero, the viewers have to observe the corrupt and brutal Diem’s regime as well as the assassination of the dictator. The viewers have to perceive the narrator not just as a Vietnamese spy, but as an individual. They have to look inside his consciousness and understand the reasons of his actions. The film should briefly portray his college years, and concentrate the attention of the audience on his return to native Vietnam. A particular attention has to be paid to Captain’s friends Man and Bon. The example of the scene, which could be applied, is the episode, when Bon went to the Reverend Ramon’s Church. The episode could include the conversation between Bon and Captain, which reveals Bon’s desire to increase his welfare level. Moreover, another scene could be dedicated to Man. It is necessary to portray the relationships between these individuals, because they might include the manifestation of the communist thoughts and ideas. It is also vital to preserve the atmosphere of conspiracy, as Nguyen has discussed these issues in the form of invisible messages. The Vietnamese part of the film should end with his escape to the U.S. and the continuation of the spy mission in this country.
The life in the U.S. has to be portrayed with the help of light tones. It is necessary to show the romantic relationships, which occurred while the narrator was working in Los Angeles. While depicting the American part of the plot, it is vital to include the scene, in which Vietnamese people were portrayed as individuals lacking intelligence. The scene should include a conflict between the narrator and the director of the film, and the viewers have to observe that despite the fact that Captain seemed to hate Vietnam, true love towards his Motherland was present in him. The scene should manifest his inner rage and desire to show the Vietnamese people from a right perspective.
In the last scenes, it is necessary to portray the climax of the story, which should include the revelation of the fact that Man and the narrator were the communist sympathizers. The director of the movie should show this revelation in relation to their third friend, Bon, in order to manifest the sufferings, which he experienced because of this secret. The last scenes of the work should be shot in the reeducation camp. The task of the director is to render the psychological tortures of the protagonist and to portray him as a person, who searched his place in this world.
In general, it has to be stated that this story would be more interesting, if the directors could slightly transform it, and tie the past American relationships to the last scene. The narrator could think about his life and its possible course, recollecting his beloved woman. It would add the shades of romantics to the story. In such a way, it would discuss the romantic love and the life of a spy, mixed with the historic representation of the Vietnamese conflict. This transformation could make the work more spectacular and could increase the interest of the audience.
In the course of the movie the various framing has to be applied. It could assist in making the spectator’s attention automatic and ensuring that the spectator is attending to the particular details. Shimamura emphasizes that the usage of diverse framing techniques helps to depict the things, which people need to see at changing distances. The camera shooting must include flat and high angles. In such a way, it will enable the viewers to see the feelings, experienced by the protagonist.
Taking music into consideration, it should be stated that, while depicting the background information of the movie, it is worth applying certain pieces of classics, which could render the mood of terror and suffering. While portraying the scenes in Vietnam, it is appropriate to apply some fragments of the traditional Vietnamese songs, performed with the help of the electric guitar. The American scenes have to be supported by such famous songs as “Knocking on the heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan, “Glory days” by Bruce Springsteen, and “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors. These songs embody the spirit of America. The last scenes, during which the author indulges in his considerations, could be accompanied by Elvis Presley’s song “Always on My Mind.”
Considering the cast, Marc Dacascos is the actor, who could be chosen to perform the role of the protagonist. He is suitable for this role, because the story states that the narrator was half French and half Vietnamese and was called “bastard” because of it. For that reason, the actor in the film should be different from the Vietnamese people. Taking into consideration the characters of Man and Bon, it should be stated that their roles could be performed by Dustin Nguyen and Cung Le. These are Vietnamese American actors, who understand the story and can perform their roles in a perfect way. One more actor, who has to be chosen, is the narrator’s beloved woman. This role might be performed by Olivia Wilde. This actress can easily transform herself from a sexually attractive and seducing woman to a friendly, young, and cheerful girl. The directors have to show her personality from different angles, and this actress can easily alter according to the situation. It should be admitted that such a cast might result in being successful for this film, because it is multifaceted, as well as the film itself is, therefore, it could assist in revealing the personality of the main hero from different angles.
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It has to be stated that while shooting the scenes in Vietnam, the decorations have to render the atmosphere of poverty, human terror, and despair. Vietnam has to be portrayed in dark colors in order to show the situation, which was present in this country forty years ago. The shooting in Los Angeles, should be, on the contrary, full of shades and colors. In his work the author has ironically admitted that America is the country of supermarkets, superfood, superpower, etc. The movie should visually portray this prefix “super” by the expressiveness of colors.
In conclusion, this paper was aimed at considering the possible creation of the cinematographic adaptation of the book The Sympathizer, which has won the Pulitzer Award. In the course of the analysis it was suggested that the plot should be slightly transformed in order to add the shades of romantics. It would make the film more spectacular and would add new shades of meaning to it. Moreover, while envisaging the performance of the actors, it was decided to use the American-Vietnamese cast in order to visually render the contrast, present in the book. In general, it is believed that the cinematographic adaptation could be effective, as the work is initially marked by interesting plot and intriguing characters, the masterful representation of which could result in a great success. The work by Nguyen is different from the thousands of other spy stories, as it is created with the shades of humor, irony, human desperateness, and satire. This mix makes a novel peculiar and distinctive from others. The task of the movie is to preserve these features and to reveal the character of the protagonist properly. The audience should pay attention to this individual, his life and destiny in order to understand the reasons of his actions.