The White Silk Dress

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The White Silk Dress
Alhdposter.jpg
The film poster.
Directed byLuu Huynh
Produced byPhuoc Sang Films
Written byLuu Huynh
StarringTrương Ngọc Ánh,
Nguyễn Quốc Khánh
Music byĐức Trí
Distributed byPhuoc Sang Films
Release date
  • October 13, 2006 (2006-10-13) (Pusan International Film Festival)
Running time
142 minutes
CountryVietnam
LanguageVietnamese
BudgetUS$2 million[1]

The White Silk Dress (Áo lụa Hà Đông in Vietnamese) is a 2006 Vietnamese war film directed by Luu Huynh starring Truong Ngoc Anh and Nguyen Quoc Khanh. With a budget of over 2 million dollars,[citation needed] it is one of the most expensive Vietnamese films ever made.[1]

Plot[edit]

The story begins in Ha Dong, Northern Vietnam in 1954 (now part of Hanoi), amid crumbling French colonial rule in Vietnam. Dan and Gu are servants, as well as lovers, in different households who suffer at the hands of their cruel masters. After Gu's master is assassinated, Dan and Gu flee south, eventually ending up in the central Vietnamese seaside town of Hoi An. There, they raise a family, with Dan giving birth to four girls. Though impoverished, the family love and support each other, even as the horrors of encroaching war threaten to tear them apart.

The story emphasizes the importance of a white silk áo dài Gu had given to Dan as a wedding gift before they fled south, with promises of a proper wedding in the future. Years later in Hoi An, Dan must sacrifice this valued possession (in addition to enduring other hardships and humiliation) to support her family and provide for her daughters the áo dàis required to attend school.

The film ultimately is a tribute to the strength and heart of the Vietnamese woman, as symbolized through the áo dài.

Main plot[edit]

Dan and Gu flee South of Vietnam during the revolutionary of farmer to search for a better place together; the most precious thing that they both own is a while silk ao dai made from Ha Dong silk which Gu gave Dan as wedding gift. The ao dai was found along with Gu when he found placed under the tree.

However, they stuck in Hoi An as Dan is about to give birth to their first child who is named Hoi An; as the rain season begins, Dan holds her baby inside their flooded house. Suddenly, Gu fishes their ao dai which inside is the sprouted glosbe which used to be used for their wedding ceremony back in their hometown, Dan tells Gu to plant the glosbe so when it grows a big paddle of glosbe, she will be officially wife of Gu; the rain stops and the flood withdraws, Gu plants the glosbe in the garden in front of their house.

More rain season comes and goes, their family now has 5 people; the house is still flooded as sitting on the bed, Dan urges Gu to name their third daughter. Blankly staring, Gu comes up with the name Lut (Flood) as he thinks ugly names are easier to raise their kids. Later, their fourth daughter is born.

Gu catches shell fish while Dan brings them to sell at the local market; the biggest property they own now must be the small boat used for fishing or picking up woods on the river. Two of their daughters who are Hoi An and Ngo are on the verge of quitting school due to not have any ao dai to keep going to school. Being worried about the daughters, Dan decides to work as a nanny, ironically, she doesn't work as a nanny for a baby, but for an old Chinese man.

Every morning, Dan starts her strange job as taking off her shirt and let the old man suck her breast. Feeling miserable and embarrassed, however Dan still keep going until being discovered by Gu. Gu gets angry and scolds Dan for doing such thing. In the end, Dan gets her ao dai altered into smaller sized ao dai for the daughters, as they switch wearing that ao dai everyday.

Thank to the parents' endless love and sacrifice, Hoi An has written an essay about her ao dai; as she is standing and reading out loud her essay for her class, a bomb hits the school. Being informed that the school is bombed, Dan dashes to school to find her daughter but only to realize that Hoi An has been dead among her classmates.

An is killed by the war but everything doesn't stop. While trying to catch shell fish during heavy rain, Dan is dragged away in the water as she is trying to fish some woods. Another time, while fleeing the war, Gu dies during a bomb.

The movie ends with the scene of the reunification in 1975, which An used to ask her father: "Is peace beautiful, daddy?". However, she couldn't make it until the peace.

Reception[edit]

The film was released in Vietnam in 2007 and was generally a hit, both critically and commercially, it won the top prize at the 2007 Golden Kite Awards (Vietnam's equivalent to the Oscars)[2] and continues to win acclaim abroad at international film festivals. Richard Kuiper of Variety who had attended the film's screening at the Pusan International Film Festival called it "deeply moving" and remarked that "at packed screening caught, most audience members were in tears".[3]

To date, its victories abroad at international film festivals include the Audience Award at the Pusan International Film Festival in South Korea,[4] the Kodak Vision award at the Fukuoka Asian Film Festival in Japan,[5] and the highly coveted "Best foreign film" award at the Golden Rooster Awards in China;[6] the White Silk Dress has also been officially selected to represent Vietnam at the 80th Academy Awards in the Best foreign language film category.

Despite its success, the film has also received some criticism as well as controversy, especially surrounding the director's political leanings as conveyed through the film; this was preceded by similar controversy surrounding the director almost a decade earlier concerning a music video he was involved in which was perceived to be actively pro-communist by Vietnamese overseas. This time around Huynh faces fire from both sides rather than just the overseas Vietnamese community.[7] Others question the historical accuracy of the film, as they contend that the Viet Minh uprising would have been unlikely in 1954, having already occurred in 1945.[8] Furthermore, they charge that the modern áo dài, a recent development of the urban upper class in the 1930s, is unsuited to represent poor Vietnamese women.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b VietNamNet Bridge Archived March 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "VietNamNet - Two films share best picture honours". Archived from the original on 2013-01-29. Retrieved 2012-05-25.
  3. ^ Kuipers, Richard (2006-10-15). "The White Silk Dress Movie Review". Variety.
  4. ^ Viet Nam News Archived March 5, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Vietnam spins 'Silk' into Oscar material[dead link]
  6. ^ VietNamNet - Vietnam movie honored at China Film Festival Archived December 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ (in Vietnamese) Nguyễn Thanh Sơn (2007-01-23). "Áo lụa Hà Đông và những lỗi sai không đáng có". VietnamNet. Archived from the original on 2007-10-24. Retrieved 2007-11-16.

External links[edit]