Money, Money! (Tiền Ơi!) (1989)
Directors: Trần Vũ & Nguyễn Hữu Luyện
Runtime: 93 minutes
Rating: M18 (Sexual Scene)
Witty, caustic, provocative and full of surprises, this recently-rediscovered gem revolves around an all-male household’s venture to smuggle liquidated bombs. The father is a former member of the militia, the elder brother an employee of a private firm, while the youngest has just returned from his study abroad with a doctorate in nuclear power. These burlesque characters were portrayed by notable actors of Vietnamese cinema: Trịnh Thịnh, Nguyễn Như Quỳnh, Đặng Tất Bình. A peacetime battlefront with countless tragicomical banalities of a Vietnam entering Đổi Mới—the structural shift to market economy in the late 1980s. With a refined, complex yet liberating mise-en-scène, co-director Trần Vũ was a celebrated filmmaker behind North Vietnam’s classic dramas depicting the human conditions amidst historical transitions.
Song to the Front (Bài Ca Ra Trận) (2011)
Director: Nguyễn Trinh Thi
Runtime: 5 minutes
The film uses footage from Trần Đắc’s eponymous feature-length classic produced by the state-owned Vietnam Feature Film Studio. Based on the story of a real-life hero, the original 1973 film was made to provide encouragement to young soldiers serving in the war. Accompanied by Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, this recut, with its rapid rhythm and suspenseful images leading to ambiguous intervals imbued with both violence and sensuality, facilitated a multilayered experience that disturbs and detours from the source material’s clear-cut message, content and aesthetics. An exploration of cinematic language, the film simultaneously investigates the narratives generated by collective memory and official history, as it seeks and questions the truth and the possibility to construct it from images.
A pioneering found footage work in Vietnam, Song to the Front exemplifies Nguyễn Trinh Thi’s experiments with moving images.
For the full ECHOES, EMBERS: a story of Vietnamese and French Cinema programme, please visit here.
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