Most blatantly, the film does this through a series of scenes in which male characters are interviewing female characters. These “interviews,” some actual and some social, from a cinematic stand-point, are shot almost exactly the same from one to the next, with the camera often holding on the girl for an extended amount of time while the guy questions her, sometimes relentlessly, from off camera. Questions on love, world politics, war, and relationships dominate the content of these interviews, but it can be said, of course, that nothing is ever answered, either because the interviewee does not know the answer (e.g. Miss 19, who has no interest in or knowledge on politics or war), or because she simply chooses not to offer it. Through this series of interviews, personal if awkward at times, the film indeed becomes something like a documentary of the social and political climate as perceived and experienced by the youth culture. However, and to return to my initial statement, juxtaposed with this reoccurrence of interview-like situations, is the reoccurrence of random and absurd scenes of violence—a woman shoots her husband dead in the street (in front of their child) after an argument in a restaurant; a woman is held at gun point on a train by two black men—the scene cuts away with the sound of a gunshot; a man stabs himself in the stomach in an arcade; man, after stealing Paul’s matches and saying, “Let this poor Christ by,” soaks himself in gasoline and lights himself on fire, leaving a note which reads “Peace in Vietnam”; Paul dies, whether by suicide, accident, or something else, by falling over a balcony railing in a high rise apartment building.
These scenes of violence seem arbitrary and ridiculous, and leave behind them a tone of utter misery and bitterness. But what I feel must be taken into account in this regard is the film’s palpable stance against war and violence as seen through the eyes of the young culture. In this sense, despite Paul’s death and the ambivalence surrounding it (which I may be ignoring in order to make the following statement) the film becomes something, if not faithful, at least partially optimistic.