Trịnh Công Sơn, Movie Star: A reviews of Đất Khổ (L& of Sorrows)

Posted on January 11, 2011 Leave sầu a phản hồi →


I didn’t know Trinh Cong Son was in a movie until I sawĐất Khổ (Land of Sorrows). Filmed in 1971, the movie is set in Hue in the days before & during the Tet Offensive of 1968. I would really recommkết thúc this movie for anytoàn thân who is curious about life during wartime in southern Viet Nam. And for all those people who are going around saying they want khổng lồ know what the Vietnamese point of view was, but keep looking only at Northern Vietnamese or Communist Vietnamese or Southern revolutionary points of view, here is the film you want khổng lồ see. Clips are available onyoutube(the whole movie is available in eleven parts–just type in “lvà of sorrows”), & theDVD can be bought onamazon.com, both with decent English subtitles. Now all those teachers và scholars & fanboys of the Viet Nam War have sầu no excuse for not using or watching a movie that shows what life was lượt thích for the southern Vietnamese.

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For those of you who don’t know, Trinch Cong Son was one of the most popular songwriters of the 1960s, và is often referred to by Americans as the “Bob Dylan of Viet Nam.” I don’t know about that, since such a moniker makes it seem that Trinc Cong Son is a knockoff or an imitator, but it gives you some sense of how popular he was. In the movie, he plays Quan, an antiwar songwriter và singer–as he was in real life–who comes trang chủ to Hue, where he encounters a family in turmoil. His eldest brother, Hai, is a captain in the ARVN who’s not happy about his antiwar activities, & who is furious that their younger sister, Hanh, is now protesting the war. Another sister, Thuy, is in love sầu with Nghia, who is neutral in the war. A brother, Ha, has just been drafted.

Thus, the film sets up the classic dilemma of a family torn by conflicting loyalties during a period of revolution, or civil war, as some would argue. The drama unfolds both within the family & outside, as battles rage. There’s some remarkable usage of helicopters and armored personnel carriers, suggesting that the film had some government cooperation. We get khổng lồ see how the war might have looked from the ARtoàn nước (southern Vietnamese army) point of view, which is rare in cinema. But most stunning of all is the incorporation of documentary footage of refugees fleeing from the battle of Hue, showing their fear và wounds (& including images of dead civilians và children on the road out of Hue). Quan’s family is caught up in the terror & are forced khổng lồ flee…and I won’t tell you what else happens.

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Throughout the course of the movie, Quan gets the chance khổng lồ break out his guitar và sing his antiwar songs, & these songs were some of the several highlights of the movie. It’s totally cool to see a film that privileges the antiwar và civilian point of view. The film makes it very clear that the civilians were the ones caught in the crossfire and that there was a significant degree of non-Communist opposition to the war. A lot of people just wanted the war lớn kết thúc, khổng lồ forget about it, khổng lồ move on to other things. Forgetting about the war and the past becomes a refrain in Quan’s music, as in this clip(Trinh Cong Son performing an antiwar concert amid armored cars) và the lyrics after that:

When peace returns lớn our country

I shall visit many sad cemeteries

And tombs covered with grass

When killing ends in our country

Then children will sing on the roads

When peace returns to lớn our country

I shall be continuously on the road

From Saigon lớn the centre

From Hanoi towards the south

I shall nội dung everyone’s happiness

And I hope lớn forget the history of my country

A strange sort of highlight in the film is the character of Tyên, an American soldier-deserter who Quan befriends & takes to his family trang chính in Hue. The guy speaks fluent Vietnamese. The Vietnamese sounds dubbed, so I’m not sure if that’s really hyên ổn speaking, but his lips are making the right motions. The point of including Tlặng is khổng lồ say that foreigners can oppose the war, and foreigners can belong in Viet Nam, too, if they learn the culture. But who the heck is that guy playing Tlặng & how did he get in the movie? This is when we would need some extras in the DVD that aren’t there.


Is the film worth watching? Yes. I give it the antiwar stamp of approval. But I also watched it with a former colonel in the ARViệt Nam paratroops và no softie on the war question. He was totally inlớn it.The unique of the acting & directing is pretty good, & there are some very nice shots of the Hue landscape. But the ending is a heartbreaker.

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Viet Thanh hao Nguyen


“Trịnh Công Sơn, Movie Star: A reviews of Đất Khổ (Land of Sorrows)” was originally published on DiaCritics.org on January 11, 2011.