Lights, Camera, Vietnam: Discover The Country's History Via Films

If you are travelling to Vietnam soon and don't wish to come across as one of those tourists who aren't aware of any history and struggle of the land, watch these films beforehand
A still from the movie Indochine
A still from the movie Indochine IMDB

Various influences, such as Chinese domination, French colonisation, Japanese occupation, American intervention, and communist revolution, have shaped Vietnam's history. The country's history has also been marked by wars, struggles, and conflicts, both internal and external, that have left deep scars and lasting impacts on the nation and its people.

One of the ways to explore and understand Vietnam's history is through films. Films are powerful mediums that can convey stories, emotions, perspectives, and messages vividly and engagingly. Films can also reflect the social, cultural, political, and historical contexts of the times they are made in and challenge or critique them. Here are some of the best films that depict or relate to Vietnam's history, from ancient to modern times.

Indochine (1992)

A still from the Indochine
A still from the Indochine IMDB

This film tells the story of a French plantation owner and her adopted Vietnamese daughter during the turbulent period of French colonialism and the rise of nationalism in Vietnam. The film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and showcases the stunning scenery of Vietnam as well as the social and political changes that occurred in the country.

The Legend Makers (2013)

A still from The Legend Makers
A still from The Legend MakersIMDB

This film is based on the true story of the engineers who built the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a network of roads and paths that supplied the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. The film depicts the hardships and sacrifices of these unsung heroes who risked their lives to ensure the survival of their comrades. The film also features some impressive action scenes and explosions.

Don’t Burn (2009)

A still from Don’t Burn
A still from Don’t BurnIMDB

This film is adapted from the diary of Dang Thuy Tram, a young female doctor who volunteered to work in a field hospital in Quang Ngai province during the Vietnam War. The diary was discovered by an American soldier who kept it for 35 years before returning it to Vietnam. The film portrays the daily struggles and emotions of the doctor and her patients, as well as the horrors of war. The film won several awards at international film festivals and was praised for its realism and sensitivity.

Sword Of the Assassin (2012)

A still from Sword Of the Assassin
A still from Sword Of the Assassin IMDB

This film is a martial arts epic that follows the journey of Nguyen Vu, a royal descendant who seeks to avenge his family who were killed by a power-hungry general. The film is set in 18th century Vietnam, when the country was divided into several feudal states. The film features stunning cinematography, elaborate costumes, and spectacular fight scenes. The film was nominated for nine Golden Kite Awards, the highest honour in Vietnamese cinema. 

The Future Cries Beneath Our Soil (2018)

A still from The Future Cries Beneath Our Soil
A still from The Future Cries Beneath Our SoilIMDB

This film is a drama that explores the lives of four friends who live in a village that was heavily bombed during the Vietnam War. It shows how they cope with the trauma and the aftermath of the war, as well as their hopes and dreams for the future. The film is a poetic and intimate portrait of rural Vietnam and its people. It won the Best Film award at the Hanoi International Film Festival.

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