Wartime epic involving a poverty-stricken family who struggle to make ends meet, and the mother who does the unthinkable to provide her daughters with the traditional silk dresses required to attend school.
Thien Tu Tran,
Truong Ngoc Anh,
Khanh Quoc Nguyen
A young man who struggles through life by earning some money with his bicycle-taxi in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city) gets contact to a group of criminals. They introduce him to the mafia-world ... See full summary »
Tran Anh Hung
Le Van Loc,
Tony Chiu-Wai Leung,
Tran Nu Yên-Khê
Invaluable and powerful insight into authentically war-torn Hanoi
After viewing countless American films about the Vietnam War, it's refreshing to find a production that comes from the "other side". Not only does it offer an alternative perspective, but it's an authentic document - made on location in Hanoi right as the war was ending in 1975. Like the far more famous Germany Year Zero, genuine rubble and bombed out buildings line the streets; and one can sense the personal relevance and immediacy to everyone involved. It's worth seeing purely as an invaluable historical resource, but is also a genuinely effective film with competent acting and filmmaking. It's old-fashioned and low-budget - like a mix of Italian Neorealism and 1950s war films - but definitely impressive, especially considering the state of the Vietnamese film industry at the time (ie, far from flourishing).
"The Litte Girl of Hanoi" focuses on a young girl who recruits the help of a soldier to track down her father, who is off fighting the war. She recounts her story, and through flashbacks we are shown her previously happy family life with her doting parents and infant sister. These sequences, including a rudimentary but charming animation of an old Vietnamese folk tale, are juxtaposed with scenes depicting the chaos of war - the family are separated, schools and hospitals are bombed, and wounded American pilots are taken prisoner and paraded through the street. It's an effective technique, while the non-linear approach gives the film a welcome poetic quality. The performance from the young girl is surprisingly good, her adorable face communicating both toughness and vulnerability. "I don't cry," she insists, "the tears just come out by themselves."
The film exists to showcase the human tragedy of the war, specifically its impact on civilians, and could reasonably be called propaganda. It's shamelessly anti-American, with the Vietnamese depicted as undeserving victims of an "imperialist" force (yes, that very word is used). An old woman damns Nixon and swears to get revenge, while the young girl dances and celebrates when a B-52 is struck. But can we blame them? "Undeserving victims" is essentially what they were. From the North's perspective, a foreign nation came from nowhere to intervene in their affairs, declare war, and murder their people. The Vietnam War is now generally accepted by Americans as the pointless failure it was, and while their films reflect this it's still very much as an *American* tragedy. The Vietnamese perspective is rarely shown. "The Little Girl of Hanoi" is an important counterpoint to this, reminding us of the enormous toll on the country's civilians. It's a small film but nonetheless raw, beautiful, insightful, and one of a kind. I'm grateful that it gave me a chance to enter the streets of Hanoi in 1975, and can only hope it will continue reaching a wider audience.
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