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Diên Biên Phú (1992)

An American reporter finds himself in the middle of the 57-day battle of Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam between the French army and the Vietminh, which finally resulted in the defeat and ... See full summary »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Howard Simpson
Patrick Catalifo ...
Captain Jégu de Kerveguen
...
L'homme de l'AFP / AFP employee
Ludmila Mikaël ...
Béatrice Vergnes
François Négret ...
Corporal
Maxime Leroux ...
Le lieutenant d'artillerie / Artillery Lieutenant
Raoul Billerey ...
Padré / Priest
Thé Anh ...
Ong Cop, M. Tigre
...
Captain Morvan
Patrick Chauvel ...
Lieutenant Duroc, DC3 Pilot
Eric Do ...
Lieutenant Ki
Ha Thu ...
Cuc, la femme de Thadé
Igor Hossein ...
Le photographe
Luc Lavandier ...
Sergent des Thais / Thai Sergeant
Joseph Momo ...
Koulibali
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Storyline

An American reporter finds himself in the middle of the 57-day battle of Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam between the French army and the Vietminh, which finally resulted in the defeat and surrender of the French forces and France's eventual withdrawal from Vietnam. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

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Drama | War

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Release Date:

4 March 1992 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Die Schlacht von Dien Bien Phu  »

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Very good movie
10 October 2005 | by (Norway) – See all my reviews

This movie needs some background knowledge of the colonial European history, mainly the french one, to be fully appreciated. The director, Schoendorffer, was an army cameraman sent to Dien Bien Phu, and one of the characters, Howard R. Simpson, was an US correspondent in Indochina and wrote an interesting book: "Dien Bien Phu: The Epic Battle America Forgot", worth to read.Schoendorffer was prisoner after the battle and sent to Vietminh concentration camps where he survived after another cameraman from the Red Army meet him.He is the narrator's voice.

What caught first my attention in this movie is that if you were serving in the army, it puts you right from the beginning in the atmosphere of a regular soldier spending time in maneuver and camp exercises.Guys on the field, some artillery, some air force, and some shouting in the background.Nothing spectacular, absolutely no epic, just like you're back in the military.At a certain point mortars fire is increasing, and shouting escalating, and that's the start of the battle.And you are in the mud, bleeding bodies and dead around you.It's just slightly over the level of raw documentary. So it's easy to feel close to the guys on the battlefield.Some Thai volunteers are shown, alongside Vietnamese, African troops, paratroopers, legionnaire, regular infantry, etc.Quite realistic photography and not like "in the movies". The Vietminh artillery made landing impossible, the place was isolated and only parachutist support is possible. Hills all around, it's often cloudy and Vietminh troops keep until the end hidden by their camouflage strategy.Nguyen Giap opted for an intense, moving and steady mortar bombing, backed by supplies and troops supported by China.Instead of a fierce battle were the tactics of the french general could had been superior.

But that's no the point of the movie. Because, scenes at the ground, depicting the evolution and worsening of the battle, are alternated with the situation as seen from Hanoï. In this part, there's a reconstitution of the colonial french time, the Vietnamese, the Europeans, the colorful variety of uniforms. A violinist comes to the city for a gala concert.Life keeps going on at the same pace, while in the meantime soldiers are being sacrificed in Dien Bien Phu.A symbolic way to show how the politics were already wanting to leave Indochina, but at the same time they wanted a nice exit, with military bravery and honors, a la legionnaire. The nice violinist lady has a relative who is captain and they meet with other soldiers at a bar where some talks give an insight on the situation and the meaning of the battle, which appears more and more like a strategical non-sense.

Soldiers are shown doing their job and there's nothing theatrical, just few quaint words about military duty's spirit and a somewhat "old school" sense of bravery.But in the 50's that was still very alive in the french military.So it stays in context. Talks between soldiers are fully understood to people familiar with french army mind and traditions.Otherwise it works like an insight.

The movie is somewhat biased as an ode to Indochina and its people itself, which is a point of view debatable.Ho Chi Minh was, despite being communist, an independents and French were foreign rulers.Yet, that point of view and the kind of relation of Vietnam to french culture is represented by the boss of the local paper in Hanoï.

All in all, an excellent movie, even if not accessible to a non-informed public.


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