Cinema: Orphans of the War

Hoa-Binh is the first feature film to be directed by the superb French cinematographer Raoul Coutard, 47, who has photographed much of the work of Godard and Truffaut. Made entirely in Viet Nam during 1969, the movie is full of scenes of severe beauty: gas-masked soldiers outlined against a metallic sky, actors in elaborate Oriental costume running from a bombed theater, whole rows of huts bursting suddenly into flame.

The plot is often, unfortunately, simplistic. A little boy's father leaves home to join the N.L.F. His mother dies soon afterward of an infected leg,...

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