Vietnam on Film!

Although the cinema came to Vietnam in the early 20th century it wasn’t until the period between the First ang Second World Wars that movie theatres sprang up throughout Hanoi and going to the movies became a popular social event. Vietnamese filmmaking officially began in 1945 during the First Indochina War.

Possibly the greatest film, fondy remembered by almost every Vietnamese is Dang Nhat Minh’s When the Tenth Month Comes. (Bao Gio Cho Den Thang Muoi, 1984).

When the Tenth Month Comes is a touching spychological drama about Duyen, a young mother whose efforts to shoulder the burden of her husband’s death alone lead to unforeseen complications.

Her responsibility to keep the news from her ailing father-in-law forces her to recruit the local schoolteacher into her plans; to forge letters from her husband. Embroiled in this subterfuge, the teacher and Duyen discover a love that, because of the circumstances cannot be acknowledged.

It is during the tenth months of the little that wandering souls return to comfort the living, and Duyen searches the temple grounds nightly to try to find her husband’s ghost. The outcome of the film blends an overwhelming desire to remain human and promote kindness during the tragedies of war. Director Dang Nhat Minh captures the essence of the Vietnamese soul; the love of family, responsibility, sacrifice and the warmth of the common people. This is a film that allows to a peek in to the culture. Even if you’ve seen it before, after living in or traveling around Vietnam and learning about Vietnamese traditions, see it again. Layers of meaning constantly unfold.

Review by Lucia d’L

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