Dien Bien Phu (Điện Biên Phủ) (1992)
Director: Pierre Schoendoerffer
Runtime: 146 minutes
Languages: French, Vietnamese
Rating: NC16 (Some Coarse Language)
The film, according to Schoendoerffer, offers a “French perspective” on Điện Biên Phủ, the historical battle that marked an end to the French colonial regime in Vietnam. Following the character of an American journalist, Điện Biên Phủ distills suppressed feelings aggregating alongside chronological events. Traversing between Hanoi and the battleground to the emotiveness of Georges Delerue’s score—the piece Le Concerto de l’Adieu—the filmic remembrance reveals soldiers-people-beings learning to co-persist in distress and despair, between life and death.
The film’s release in 1992 marked a milestone in France-Vietnam relationship with two other large-scaled cinematic co-productions coming out in the same year: Regis Wagnier’s Indochine and Jean Jacques Annaud’s The Lover. To borrow again Schoendoerffer’s words, this film was a mission he ought to fulfill, as a witness to Điện Biên Phủ.
Hanoi’s Landscape (Phong Cảnh Hà Nội) (1958)
Directors: Bùi Đình Hạc & Nguyễn Đăng Bẩy
Runtime: 13 minutes
This version of the film screens without sound as per its current archival condition.
At which distance should one record a city, landscape and people? From the eyes of Bùi Đình Hạc and Nguyễn Đăng Bẩy, Hanoi is a promise: a Hanoi after the event of Điện Biên Phủ. Under the “sky of freedom”, to cite the commentary, panoramas of the capital’s renown landmarks unfold like a series of postcards. A harmonious world where nature and heritage of then and now coexist. In long shots, at a small scale, people can be seen dressing neatly, working and playing with delight. Hope is an obvious choice. A sense of future glimmers amidst vast expanses of open space.
For the full ECHOES, EMBERS: a story of Vietnamese and French Cinema programme, please visit here.
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