Before your Eyes Vietnam

K.D.D.: Why make war films? As a character in Between Two Wars suggests: 'I tried to learn a lesson for the living from the lives of the dying.' In Before your Eyes - Vietnam, a voice-over talks about war as basically an experiment, not unlike film itself. What is the film-war analogy for you?
H.F.: I always try to avoid this analogy. In 1968 this very strange analogy was born: a camera is a gun. You also see it in discussions of the Gulf War in the media. There's too much narcissism in the filmmakers and newspeople nowadays who believe they are producing reality. All these claims stem from the idea that anyone who controls computers and cameras also controls reality. So there's not really an analogy for me.
K.D.D.: Can we return to Before Your Eyes – Vietnam for a moment? Why make a film on Vietnam in 1981, many years after people stopped talking about the war?
H.F.: One reason was that I wanted to take a stand against all this retro stuff that was going on in the United States. Let's take Coppola, for example, in Apocalypse Now. Yes, it's a great film, I thought. No problem. But there is a problem. Let me make a comparison. Imagine we only made films about the psychological problems of the people who ran the concentration camps, and never about the victims. That's what America does. There are two hundred movies about how difficult it was to come back from Vietnam, being unemployed or traumatized, etc. That's a bit strange. First, you kill 1.5 million people and then your only concern is: has your wife left you? Will you still love her? and so on. That's all a bit strange. One could say it would be better for Americans to talk about Americans, not about Vietnam. So that was a starting point. The other thing is that I hated the behavior of some circles here that for a while were very sympathetic to the Viet Cong but later, when it turned out that they were not heroes, were not without blemish, but had also set up concentration camps and so on, latched on to other issues, Nicaragua or fashionable problems within Europe. I hate this tendency.

Original title Etwas wird sichtbar Director Harun Farocki Assistant Director Ursula Lefkes Scriptwriter Harun Farocki Script Karl-Heinz Wegmann Cinematographer Ingo Kratisch Second cinematographer Rainer März, Peter Wirths Assistant cinematographer Wolf-Dieter Fallert Editor Johannes Beringer Sound Rolf Müller, Manfred Blank Mixing Gerhard Jensen Music Markus Spies Cast Anna Mandel, Marcel Werner, Hanns Zischler, Inga Humpe, Bruno Ganz, Jeff Layton, Ronny Tanner, Hartmut Bitomsky, Rainer Homann, Olaf Scheuring, Michael Wagner, Elfriede Irrall, Ingrid Oppermann, Wilhelm Menne Narrator Till Hagen Production Harun Farocki Filmproduktion, Berlin-West, ZDF, Mainz Executive producer Ulrich Ströhle  Format 35mm, b/w, 1:1,37 Length 114 min. First screening 24.01.1982, Saarbrücken (Max-Ophüls-Preis) First release 26.02.1982, Berlin-West (Cinema Bundesallee) First broadcast 05.09.1984, ZDF Distributor Basis German Film Board Classification Prädikat "Wertvoll" (of high artistic quality and social relevance)