Dr. Kate Liu and Dr. Wen-chi Lin
Fragments of Identities in North American Postmodern Fiction and Film
12 April 2000
The Stunt Man
History, Memory and Identity in The Stunt Man
The confusion between illusion and reality is one of the important and the essential issues in The Stunt Man. The blend of the experience in the past and the happening reality in the present reveals the montage of absurdity and disjunction. The concealment of intentions to the film production or the Vietnam War is also an important characteristics frequently discussed in The Stunt Man. Through the technique of concealing the ugly experience in the past, eventually the stuntman was reborn and transformed himself as the part of American myth of progress.
I.. The concealment of intentions to the experience in the past is the only and the basic force to
American myth of progress.
A. The failure of the Vietnam War is sometimes not allowed and accepted within American story, but the manifestation of the individual hero.
B. The forgetfulness of ugly experiences in Vietnam is the essential element of the American story or history (Ellis 233).
C. The American involvement of the Vietnam War is the symbolic war to forge the new American myth in order to manifest the so-called American Character. (Ellis 232).
II. The concealing involvement of the memories in the Vietnam War represents some symbolic
objects or words in The Stunt Man.
A. The presence of the helicopter is the impressive symbol of the Vietnam War.
B. The word "gooks" reveals and intrigues the past of the Stuntman/ the Vietnam Vet.
C. The large tattoo of the American eagle on Cameron¡¦s right arm is a symbol of Vietnam War and misguided patriotism (Birdwell 228).
III. The confusion of the illusion and reality (the stunt works vs. real life / the spectators¡¦ reactions)
manifests the uncertainties and the probabilities in the film and the real life.
A. The massacre in the shooting scene makes the spectators feel confused whether this happening scene is a stunt work or misdirected scene.
B. The bi-plane stunt scene provides the spectators an objective perceptive of how visual effect and stunt works are schemed in the film production.
IV. The various identities of the Stuntman reveals his unknown experience in the past and also
presents the transformation/ the development of the Stuntman.
A. The transformation of the figure presents various identities of the Stuntman: Cameron-- a Vietnam Vet ¡V a fugitive¡Xsurrogate stuntman Burt (poor lucky)¡Xthe Stuntman.
B. Through this process of transformation, the film conceals the Fact and exposes the so-called Truth to the spectators.
C. The stunt works happening in the film within a film presents the coexistence / the confrontation of the past and the present ambivalently.
Issues for further discussion
1. The forging of the American myth in the Vietnam War. (the post-colonialism / imperialism.
2. The collective amnesia of the failure in the past in American myth.
3. The authorial intrusions and the manipulations within The Stunt Man (The director Richard Rush / the director Eli Cross and screenwriter Sam).
4. The preoccupation of the mise-en-scene in the beginning of The Stunt Man.
Work Cited (Reference)
Birdwell, Michael. "The Stunt Man: An Overlooked Commentary on Vietnam." Literature-Film
Quarterly. 20(3):223-30. 1992.
Ellis, Caron Schwartz. "The Stunt Man: Remembering Vietnam through Forgetfulness." Literature-
Film Quarterly. 20(3):231-42. 1992.
Rush, Richard. The Stunt Man. Trimark. 1980.