SOAS University of London

South East Asia Section, School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics

South East Asia on Film

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2020/2021
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Term 1

South East Asia on Film examines the key issues raised by a series of Western films set in various parts of South East Asia (such as Java, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma and Vietnam). It looks at the significance of the external, visual perspective on the region, the encounter between Western characters and those of local origin; and the dramatic dilemmas which face the Western traveller/visitor to the region. In doing so it introduces students to a beginner’s study of the theoretical and critical perspectives of orientalism and postcolonialism as well as to the fundamental elements of critical theory with regard to film. Each of the films selected for viewing and discussion will in addition provide scope for the discussion of key issues pertinent to understandings of South East Asia and the most significant events in its political history. As a result the content of this course builds on the introductory lectures provided in Introduction to South East Asia (although it can be taken as a stand alone half unit and is not dependent on the previous course). It further provides a grounding for study in years 2,3 and 4 of thematic modules in South East Asian cinema.


155901320:  Introduction to South East Asia

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  1. understand the nature of the problems and nuances of studying South East Asia from an outside perspective
  2. be aware of the basic features of orientalism
  3. understand the impact of colonial and imperial power relations on the construction of an outside cultural perspective on South East Asia
  4. learn the principal, basic techniques of film theory and film viewing from a critical perspective together with having acquired background knowledge of the political and historical issues raised in Western films set in South East Asia
  5. extract and process information from cinematic and secondary sources, and to combine the two
  6. contribute to group discussion of the cinematic texts explored in this course
  7. learn how to contribute constructively to debates, how to accommodate the views of others in the learning group and how to present their own views with oral fluency and confidence


Total of 10 weeks teaching with 4 hours classroom contact per week consisting of a 1 hour lecture and a 1 hour seminar and a 2 hour film screening.

Method of assessment

Two reaction papers of 500 words each (30%); an essay of 1000 words to be submitted on day 5, week after reading week in the term in which the module is taught (30%); an essay of 1500 words to be submitted on day 5, week 1, in the term after the module is taught (40%).

Suggested reading

  • Adair, Gilbert. 1981. Vietnam on Film. London: Proteus.
  • Adair, Gilbert. 1989. Hollywood’s Vietnam. Heinemann.
  • Anderegg, Michael. 1991. Inventing Vietnam. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
  • Auster, Albert and Quart, Leonard. 1988. How the War was Remembered: Hollywood and Vietnam. Praeger.
  • Bao Ninh. 1993. The Sorrow of War. London: Secker and Warburg.
  • Blandford, Steve, Barry Keith Grant and Jim Hillier. 2001. The Film Studies Dictionary. London: Arnold.
  • Bluestone, George. 1957. Novels into Film. Berkeley and London: University of California Press.
  • Blum-Reid, Sylvie. 2003. East-West Encounters: Franco-Asian Cinema and Literature. London and New York: Wallflower Press.
  • Boyum, Joy Gould. 1985. Double Exposure: Fiction into Film. New York: New American Library.
  • Bristow, J. 1988. ‘How Men Are’. In New Formations 6: 119-31.
  • Clark, M. 1985. ‘Vietnam: Representations of the Self and War.’ In Wide Angle 17, 4: 4-11.
  • Chao, Phebe Shih. 1997. ‘Reading The Letter in a Postcolonial World.’ In Matthew Bernstein and Gaylyn Studlar (eds.), Visions of the East. Orientalism in Film. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
  • Chatman, Seymour. 1997. ‘2.5 film versions of Heart of Darkness’. In Gene M. Moore, Conrad on Film . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Childs, Peter and Patrick Williams, An Introduction to Post-Colonial Theory, Harlow: Pearson Education, 2006.
  • Comber, Michael and Margaret O’Brien. 1988. ‘Evading the War: the Politics of the Hollywood Vietnam Film.’ In History June.
  • Conrad, Joseph. 1988. Heart of Darkness (critical edition, ed. By Robert Kimbrough including a number of critical articles on‘Apocalypse Now’ in relation to Conrad’s text). New York and London: Norton.
  • Cooper, Nicola. 2001. France in Indochina. Colonial Encounters. Oxford and New York: Berg. (See esp. chaps 6 & 7.)
  • Coppola, Eleanor. 1995. Notes: On the Making of Apocalypse Now. London: Faber and Faber.
  • Cowie, Peter. 1990. Coppola. London: Faber and Faber.
  • Cowie, Peter. 2000. The Apocalypse Now Book. London: Faber and Faber.
  • Devine, Jeremy M.. 1999. Vietnam at 24 Frames a Second. Austin: University of Texas Press.
  • Dittmar, Linda and Gene Michaud. 1990. From Hanoi to Hollywood. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
  • Doherty, T. 1986. ‘Review of Rambo’. In Film Quartetly, Spring: 50-54.
  • Dow, Leslie Smith 1991 Anna Leonowens: Life Beyond The King and I. Pottersfield Press: Lawrencetown Beach, Nova Scotia.
  • Duncan, Paul. 1999. Stanley Kubrick. Harpenden: Pocket Essentials.
  • Elsaesser, Thomas and Michael Wedel. 1997. ‘The hollow heart of Hollywood: Apocalypse Now and the new sound space.’ In Gene M. Moore, Conrad on Film . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Frazer, Sir James. 1990. The Golden Bough. London: Macmillan.
  • French, Karl. 2000. Apocalypse Now. London: Bloomsbury Movie Guides.
  • Giddings, Robert. 1990. Screening the Novel. New York: St Martin’s Press. (SH)
  • Goodwin, Michael and Naomi Wise. 1989. On the Edge: The Life and Times of Francis Ford Coppola. New York: Morrow.
  • Greene, Graham. 1955 (1973). The Quiet American. London: Penguin Books.
  • Griswold, Alexander 1957 King Mongkut in Perspective. Journal of the Siam Society 45:1-41.
  • Gullick, J. 1995 Adventurous Women in South EastAsia: Six Lives. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.
  • Harrison, Brady. 1999. ‘”This Movie is a Thing of Mine”: Homeopathic Postmodernism in Michael Herr’s Dispatches.’ In Michael Bibby, The Vietnam War and Postmodernity, University of Massachusetts Press.
  • Hayward, Susan. 2001. Cinema Studies: The Key Concepts. London and New York: Routledge
    Herr, Michael. 1972. Dispatches. New York: Knopf.
  • Heung, Marina. 1997. ‘The Family Romance of Orientalism. From Madame Butterfly to Indochine.’ In Matthew Bernstein and Gaylyn Studlar (eds.), Visions of the East. Orientalism in Film. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
  • Hill, John and Pamela Church Gibson. 1998. The Oxford Guide to Film Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Holland, C. 1999 The Story of Anna and the King. New York: Harper Perennial.
  • Huddart, David, Homi K. Bhabha, Oxford: Routledge, 2006. Chapters 3 and 4.
  • Jackson, B. 1990. ‘The Perfect Informant’. In American Journal of Folklore 103: 400-16.
  • Jameson, Fredric. 1991. Postmodernism. London and New York: Verso. (See esp. chaps 1, 2 and 9.)
  • Jeffords, S. 1989. The Remasculinization of America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • Kagan, Norman. 1995. The Cinema of Oliver Stone. Oxford: Roundhouse.
  • Kagan, Norman. 2000. The Cinema of Stanley Kubrick. Oxford: Roundhouse.
  • Kepner, Susan 1996 ‘Anna (and Margaret) and the King of Siam’. Crossroads 10:2:1-32.
  • Kerr, P. 1980. ‘The Vietnam Subtext.’ In Screen 21, 2: 67-72.
  • Leonowens, Anna 1870 (1989) The English Governess at the Siamese Court. Singapore: Oxford University Press.
  • -------------- 1873 Siamese Harem Life . London: Arthur Barker Ltd. (originally published in 1872 as Romance of the Harem).
  • LoBrutto, Vincent. 1997. Stanley Kubrick. London: Faber and Faber.
  • Louvre, Alf and Jeffrey Walsh. 1988. Tell me Lies about Vietnam. London: Open University Press.
  • Maes-Jelinek, Hena. 1998. York Notes Advanced on “Heart of Darkness”. London: Longman.
  • Malo, Jean-Jacques and Tony Williams. 1994. Vietnam War Films. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company.
  • Manderson, Lenore 1997 Parables of Imperialism and Fantasies of the Exotic. In Sites of Desire, Economies of Pleasure, L. Manderson and M. Jolly, eds. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Maugham, Somerset. 1998. ‘The Letter’. In Short Stories. London: Vintage Classics.
  • McKeever, Robert J.. 1989. ‘American Myths and the Impace of the Vietnam War: Revisionism in Foreign Policy and Popular Cinema in the 1980s.’ In Jeffrey Walsh, Vietnam Images: war and representation, London: Macmillan Press.
    McClintock, Anne 1995 Imperial Leather. New York: Routledge.
  • Moffat , Abbot Low 1961 Mongut: the King of Siam. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  • Mulhall, Stephen. 2001. On Film. London: Routledge.
  • Murray, Alison. 2002. ‘Women, Nostalgia, Memory: Chocolat, Outremer and Indochine.’ In Research in African Literatures, Volume 33, Summer.
  • Nelmes, Jill. 1999. An Introduction to Film Studies. London and New York: Routledge.
  • Newsinger, John. 1993. ‘’Do you walk the Walk?’: Aspects of masculinity in some Vietnam War films.’ In Pat Kirkham andJanet Thumin(eds.), You Tarzan.Masculinity, Movies and Men. London: Lawrence and Wishart.
  • Norindr, P. 1996. Phantasmatic Indochina: French Colonial Ideology in Architecture, Film and Literature. Durham: Duke UP.
  • O’ Harrow, Stephen. 1995. ‘Vietnamese Women and Confucianism: Creating Spaces from Patriarchy’. In Wazir Jahan Karim (ed.), Oxford/Washington: Berg Publishers.
  • Phillips, Gene D.. 1995. Conrad and Cinema. The Art of Adaptation. (esp. chapter 8). New York: Peter Lang.
  • Porteous, Katrina. 1989. ‘History Lessons: Platoon.’ In Jeffrey Walsh, Vietnam Images: war and representation, London: Macmillan Press.
  • Rowe, John Carlos and Rick Berg. 1991. The Vietnam War and American Culture. New York: Columbia.
  • Said, Edward. 1995. Orientalism. London: Penguin.
  • Said Edward W.. 1993. ‘Two Visions in Heart of Darkness’. In Culture and Imperialism. London: Chatto and Windus, pp. 20-35.
  • Screen. 1992. The Sexual Subject. A Screen Reader in Sexuality. London: Routledge.
  • Shohat, Ella. 1997. ‘Gender and the Culture of Empire: Towards a Feminist Ethnography of the Cinema.’ In Matthew Bernstein and Gaylyn Studlar (eds.), Visions of the East. Orientalism in Film. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
  • Sim. Stuart (ed.). 1998. Postmodern Thought. Cambridge: Icon Books.(RH/SH)
  • Smith, Julian. 1975. Looking Away: Hollywood and Vietnam. New York: Scribners.
  • Stam, Robert and Toby Miller. 2000. Film and Theory. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Stoler, Ann 1995 Race and the Education of Desire. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • ------------- 2002 Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Studlar, Gavin and David Desser. 1988. ‘Never having to say you’re sorry: Rambo’s rewriting of the Vietnam War.’ In Film Quarterly 42, 1 (Fall 1988).
  • Suid, Lawrence. 1978. Guts and Glory: Great American War Movies. Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley.
  • Tasker, Yvonne. 1993. Spectacular Bodies. London and New York. Routledge. (especially chapter 5.)
  • Tasker, Yvonne.1998. Working Girls. Gender and Sexuality in Popular Cinema. London Routledge.
  • Terweil, B.J. 1989 Through Traveller’s Eyes: An Approach to Early Nineteenth Century Thai History. Bangkok: Editions Duang Kamol.
  • Thongchai Winichkul 1994 Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo-Body of a Nation. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
  • ------------------------ 2000 The Quest for “Siwilai”: A Geographical Discourse of Civilizational Thinking in the late 19th and early 20th Century Siam. Journal of Asian Studies 59(3):528-549.
  • Turner, Graeme. 1993. Film as Social Practice. London and New York: Routledge.
  • van Esterik, Penny. 2006. ‘Anna and the King: Digesting Difference’ In South East Asia Research, July.
  • Wagner, Geoffrey. 1975. The Novel and the Cinema. Teaneck, N. J. : Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. (SH)
  • Walker, Alexander, Sybil Taylor and Ulrich Ruchti. 1999. Stanley Kubrick, Director. New York and London: W. W. Norton and Company.
  • Watson, Wallace. ‘Conrad and Film’. In Conradiana 11, no 3 (1979) pp. 209-27 (In Senate House)
  • Wimmer, Adi. 1989. ‘Rambo: American Adam, Anarchist and Archetypal Frontier Hero.’ In Jeffrey Walsh, Vietnam Images: war and representation, London: Macmillan Press.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules