The Quiet American is an adaptation of Graham Greene's book set in 1950's French occupied Vietnam. The story revolves around a UK journalist (Michael Caine), his Vietnamese lover, and a CIA operative working under the cover of an international aid administrator. Although it was probably not intended to be, it serves as a metaphor for the relationships between the United States, colonialism, and much of the developing world. While I watched it over two nights, I couldn't help but think of the human tragedy of Iraq and Afghanistan, both for the peoples of those nations and our American soldiers. The movie is beautifully and hauntingly filmed. There is a profound sadness that is conveyed right from the start and one watches it knowing that there is no redemption coming. Karl Marx once remarked that "history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy and the second time as farce."
One of the things that the movie reminds you of (I understand it was filmed well before Sept. 11) is that terrorism is not a new phenomenon. It is a tool of war that is as old as war itself. My favorite line in the movie is when Caine's Vietnamese interpreter and assistant says: You eventually have to pick a side to stay human.
Rent it. Reflect on it. And then put it into a corner of your mind because you know that this story portends the ending for our current adventures.