Movies in Vietnamese Culture

oh saigon 220px-The_Rebel_poster

Part of the research into the media which is developed in Vietnam is a study of the cinema which is produced there,  due to it being a small third-world country the amount of movies produced and view-able in today’s modern world is limited as Vietnam isn’t necessarily at the forefront of the cinema industry as much as Hollywood or Bollywood. Instead the films are often small and done by families who enlist family members to portray characters, there are several families which dominate the industry and have produced a few good films which have grabbed the attention of the world. More common are movies about Vietnam produced in America most notably among these are war movies such as Forrest Gump  or Deer Hunter.   However these movies do not accurately portray the countries as they are intentionally biased towards the American Audience and our perspective of the war, however i did find a movie directed by a Vietnamese director but produced in America. The movie is titled Oh Saigon (2007)and while it does focus on the war in Vietnam it tells the tale of a family which is struggling during the war, accosted by both sides of the conflict the family must struggle with the decision to stay or leave Saigon, the capital of Vietnam where they have lived their entire lives. The aesthetics of the movie are meant to appear old, displaying the lives of these Vietnamese people with accurate footage displaying Saigon and  well known Vietnam war images as well.  It is a deep and emotional movie, very slow in most cases documenting the events leading up the families evacuation from the city.  This film being produced by Americans is very well done and while it is made in america it still focuses heavily on the Vietnamese people and not on the soldiers of the United States. This film highlights how much family means to the Vietnamese people, this is a theme known throughout the indo-pacific, strong ties to family and loyalty to their country is a strong theme shown in their aesthetics. Many of the websites and advertisements i have viewed display this pride in their country by incorporating red and gold into the design somewhere, this point is later reitterated with the end of the movie displaying the proud symbol of vietnam.

In Contrast another movie filmed in 2007 called The Rebel  or ” Dong Mau Anh Hung” is completely filmed, produced, and written in Vietnam.  It is an action movie much to my delight and focuses on the time where France was attempting to colonize Vietnam back in the 1920s. Vietnam has been under constant threat from other countries during its entire existence, this is due to its location on the coast and the prospect of being a great trading area. The french attempted to subdue the people of Vietnam and as a result just as with the U.S invasion, many rebel groups began to appear in Vietnam. This movie follows not a Vietnamese rebel but rather a cultured french Vietnamese man who works with the colonists to extend their rule over the peninsula. During this however he meets a young rebel women who he soon develops feelings for and eventually becomes a fugitive rebel fighter as well after discovering she is in danger from a mole in her organisation. The movie is full of martial arts which is what drew me to it initially as  a martial artist myself i found myself smiling as the fights progressed and the origins of my own martial arts back then known as Te and now known as Karate. This movie was extremely well done being filmed in Vietnam villages on location no recreations the movie is very good at puting you in colonial Vietnam. The villages, clothing, images of agriculture combined with the all Vietnamese actors really allows a Vietnamese audience to identify with the characters. Especially the rebels in the films, the Vietnamese paint these as heroes  and reminds the audience of the fact that Vietnam has always been in conflict with foreign powers first with Japan in ancient times, then France in the 1920s and then America during the Vietnam War.  This streak of independence and willingness to fight is characteristic of the Vietnamese people, however their fear of what might happen if they are wrong is also clearly on display in the lead character of the film as he struggles within himself to obey the law of the occupants or to fight alongside his countrymen. This film truly defines the need for these people to be left alone, and how they will fight to defend their independence no matter the cost, it shows their intense sense of national pride and sense of self as Vietnamese people.The coloring of the film is surprisingly vibrant, but then most action movies are and there is definite evidence that the films of Vietnam draw inspiration from Hollywood enhancing action scenes vividly before withdrawing to make the scenes indoors seem dark and muted. This coloring and effects in this movie are wonderful combining beautiful nature scenes with great action sequences i highly recommend it.


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