Two Movies and Four Topics

The two movies that are going to be focussed on in this article are "The Quiet American" and "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold". Much of the research is going to be based on some of the topics that are depicted from both movies. In other words, there are certain aspects that are present in both movies, and the purpose of the essay is to provide a highlight of these topics through examples from the movie.

Theses statement 1

One of the topics that are going to be under consideration is that of "truth versus lies" where deception seems to be one of the biggest attributes in both movies. In the movie "The Quiet American", there is a combination of both scenery of a love triangle as well as that of a geopolitical backdrop in the incredible Indochina setting of the 1950's (Greene & Stone, 2004 ). Deception sets in when the movie introduces Fowler, a married British news reporter who apparently is in love with another woman, whose name we later know as Phoung. Fowler has an American friend called Pyle, who he does not mind introducing him to Phoung. In the long run, these two develop a love for each other and soon enough, the "love triangle" heats up. The fact that a married man (Fowler) can fall in love with a woman who is also being pursued by another man (Pyle) portrays the theme of "truth versus lies" at its best, as the movie culminates with the demise of one of the members of the love triangle.

In the movies "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" this theme may well be biggest highlight thereof. A movie with spies as the main character cannot be effective without the strategic and consistent use of deception in order to build the cast. Here, main character Leamus decides to go "undercover" after Control appoints him to infiltrate the German military in order for the British to get a hold of German government secrets (Le Carre, 2001). What follows is a series of deceiving acts by Leamus in order to reach that he could work hand-in-hand with a Jewish spy who is working for the Germans. For him to attain this level, Leamus must be involved in a couple of deceiving acts, like when he drinks uncontrollably in order to be taken to jail. Here, he meets the "Links", rebels against the then German regime.

Theses statement 2

The other topic as mentioned earlier is that of "the ethics of murder," highlighted by the mysterious deaths mentioned in both movies. Clearly, both movies leave it to the discretion of the viewer to explore whether the murders committed had any level of justification to them or not. In "The Quiet American" the movie begins with a scenario of a dead body (Plye) floating on the waters of a river. Plye, one of the main characters in the movie finds himself caught up in a love triangle that includes his close companion called Fowler. Both of them are in love with Phoung, and thus the thing that pursues is the fight for the lady. So intense is this fight, that one of them sees it as justifiable enough to end someone else's life.

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On the other hand, the movie "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" starts of with a cold blooded assassination. While British spy Leumus sits comfortably in a coffee shop sipping his cup of coffee, he expects the arrival of his accomplice, Riemick. Within a short while, he witnesses the first-hand brutal murder of his partner by the Germans. This was an act masterminded by Mundt, a German spy. Leumus, thus is compelled to revenge his death and is motivated by 'Control' to pursue this course of action. He engages in a series of deceptions in order to make this work out.


Theses statement 3

The third topic addressed is that of "patriots versus traitors." The characters are both loyal to their countries and their missions though experience schemes laid along the way. In "The Quiet American," Fowler, who has a wife living in London, though they are considering divorce, has a relationship with a Southeast Asian girl called Phuong. She not only prepares opium pipes for him, but she has sex with him in light of his having a wife. Their relationship pegs on Fowler's ability keep his job and to support her financially. Fowler betrays his commitment to his wife by having an affair with a girl whom he has no expectation of marrying. The girl, also in an act of betrayal, later on dumps him and takes up with Pyle, leaving him feeling as if the end of that relationship would kill him. Pyle on the other hand, is a patriotic American, who masterminds a covert intelligence job of blowing up cars and killing over thirty innocent victims and puts the blame on the communists. His love for his country turns him into a terrorist who acts with the aim of saving lives in the future.

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In the movie "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold," Alec Leamas who is patriotic to his country, believes that he is going on an undercover operation for the British government in Germany. He had no knowledge that the British government, on the other hand, had other motives. Towards the end of the movie, he realises that his own side had used him and manipulated him contrary to what he thought was going on. Leamas is committed to his love for the innocent Liz Gold, whom he feels is the circus unknowingly. He is betrayed, terminally fatigued and is in a state of despair and yet does not care much for his escaping, but the freedom of the girl means everything to him. The government uses the girl without pity, planning that she should die while climbing the wall, because her freedom in the west would be a monumental liability for them or a 'disaster' in intelligence terms. This happens in the sight of Lemas where he gets an opportunity to escape and "come in from the cold." George Smiley who is also Lemas', traitor, inquires of the girl's whereabouts in a bid to confirm the death of the girl and this became the last betrayal that Lemas suffers, as he climbs back and meets his demise.

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Theses statement 4

The topic of masculinity/patriarchy in crisis is also discussed where the men in the movies play heroic acts in times of crisis. In the movie "The Quiet American," masculinity emerges in the most spectacular scenes of the movie where the two men, Fowler and Pyle are on a road. The two who are rivals in their shared love for Phuong and view her as "a precious toy" were in a trap on the road joining Phat Diem to Saigon. Pyle saves Fowler's life and they take refuge in a water tower that belonged to the French, during which time the communist forces had raided it (Peyton, 2009). During this crisis, Pyle stands out as the saviour of the two. One would expect that Pyle would let Fowler die and have the girl all to him, but on the contrary, acted as a noble person during the time of crisis.

In the movie "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold," Leamas' masculinity in crisis surfaces when an opportunity to escape appears. All he wanted was to get Liz to the west and to safety; his own state did not matter to him as much. Being an experienced and worldly agent, Leamas is expected to be aware of a scheme to jeopardize the escape, but after discovering that his own country had used him and betrayed him, he held on to his desire for Liz Gold's safety. He thought the girl was innocent and knew nothing and set her off to freedom foregoing his own opportunity to escape. 

Clearly, there is a correlation between these topics. It is seen from both movies that whenever there is a persistent order of lies within someone's domain, there is always a risk for the person to commit murder or some other equally negative action (Malmgren, 2001). The movies also clearly show that the characters are committed to performing their patriotic duties and at the same time fall in love and are committed to each other. The masculinity presented by the men appears most when those they love are in trouble or there is a crisis going on.

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