The Scent of Green Papaya (1993)
"Mùi du du xanh" (original title)

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A little girl, Mui, went to a house as a new servant. The mother still mourns the death of her daughter, who would have been Mui's age. In her mind she treated Mui as her daughter. 10 years... See full summary »



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tran Nu Yên-Khê ...
Mui Age 20 (as Trân Nu Yên-Khê)
Man San Lu ...
Mui Age 10 #orphan # a little girl
Thi Loc Truong ...
La mère (as Truong Thi Lôc)
Anh Hoa Nguyen ...
La vieille Ti (as Nguyên 'Anh Hoa)
Hoa Hoi Vuong ...
Khuyen (as Vuong Hòa Hôi)
Ngoc Trung Tran ...
Le père
Vantha Talisman ...
Keo Souvannavong ...
Van Oanh Nguyen ...
Mr. Thuan
Gerard Neth ...
Nhat Do ...
Thi Hai Vo ...
La grand-mère
Thi Thanh Tra Nguyen ...
Lam Huy Bui ...
Le médecin
Xuan Thu Nguyen ...


A little girl, Mui, went to a house as a new servant. The mother still mourns the death of her daughter, who would have been Mui's age. In her mind she treated Mui as her daughter. 10 years later Mui (now a young woman) was sent to another family, a young pianist and his wife. The musician falls in love with the peasant, he taught her literacy and they eventually married. A movie about a girl's life. Written by Zheng Wang <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Music | Romance


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Parents Guide:






Release Date:

28 January 1994 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Scent of Green Papaya  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$1,910,763 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Although the cast and crew of the film are mostly Vietnamese and the film takes place in Vietnam, it was actually filmed completely on a sound stage in Boulogne, France. See more »


Referenced in Pirated Copy (2004) See more »


Prélude no 23
Music by Frédéric Chopin (as Chopin)
Performed by Geneviève Ibanez
See more »

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User Reviews

A society of grace and harmony
21 February 2005 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

In Tran Anh Hung's debut film The Scent of Green Papaya, Mui (Lu Man San) is a ten-year old girl who comes from a small village to the home of a wealthy Saigon merchant to work as a servant in 1951. The first Vietnamese film ever nominated for an Academy Award as Best Foreign Language Film, Scent of Green Papaya captures the natural beauty of pre-war Vietnam, even though it was filmed on a set constructed in a Paris studio. Mui personifies the innocence of a Vietnamese society where grace and harmony has not yet given way to bombs and destruction. Mui accepts her place with patience, serving the meals, preparing the vegetables, scrubbing the floors, and polishing the shoes.

True to the Buddhist ideal of being in the present moment, Mui studiously carries out her tasks, refusing to be affected by the torments of the younger son Tin (Gerard Neth), upset over his father's desertion of the family. She observes her natural surroundings in great detail: ants carrying a small piece of bread, a frog sitting on a leaf, a cricket jumping at night, and the seeds of a green papaya. The mother (Thi Loc Truong) is distraught over the recent death of her young daughter To and looks upon Mui as her replacement, perhaps even her reincarnation. In one scene, the mother stands over Mui while she sleeps and weeps silently for the loss of her daughter and perhaps for a Vietnam that she knows will soon disappear.

Her husband (Ngoc Trun Tran) is a drinker and womanizer who has run off with the family's money. The mother is stoic and we only hear about her problems through the elderly grandmother (Thi Hai Vo) who mourns her dead husband alone in her upstairs room. The second part of the film shifts ten years into the future. Mui (Tran Nu Yen-Khe) has become a young woman. Because of the family's financial condition she has moved to the house of Khuyen, a professional musician and composer (Vuong Hoa Hoi). Her leaving triggers in the mother a profound sense of loss for her "daughter" and a sense that the old way of life in her country is coming to a permanent end.

In her new house, Mui must contend with the musician's Westernized fiancé who personifies the artificiality of modern society. Annoyed with the insensitivity of his fiancé, Khuyen sees Mui with fresh eyes and begins to realize how much she embodies the traditional values he has left behind. Though the film may try the patience of Western audiences, The Scent of Green Papaya, in its simplicity and awareness of the natural world, reminds us of the power of cinema to reach artistic heights.

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I did not like this movie hipchica123
the soundtrack ruined the movie h_heftig
Even Vietnamese couldn't understand what it was about. hellblade_05
The woman in the closing scene MattPage
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I feel lucky that I've seen this wonderful film!!! Kazuyo
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