Billy Bang, Lucky Man (2010)

‘War does not determine who is right, only who is left’. Bertrand Russel In March 1967 Billy Bang was conscripted to fight one year in the jungles of Vietnam, an experience that left him emotionally desolate and profoundly confused about his american identity. Upon his return he tried to forget his nightmares through alcohol, drugs and music. Fourty years later he decides that the only way he will be able to repair his emotions and find some closure to his trauma is to return to Vietnam, this time with his violin. ‘Redemption Song’ documents Billy Bang’s brave return to the battlefields of his past, fraught with memories and flashbacks, in contrast to the ebullient youthful Vietnam of today, as he encounters a people and a culture that he had never known and had been taught to hate. His journey takes him through the rich musical traditions of Vietnam, from Saigon and the Mekong Delta, north across the 17th parallel and climaxing with his collaboration with the Hanoi symphony orchestra. ‘Redemption song’ is about Billy’s desire to overcome and transcend the trauma of war through music and art.

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