Let’s unravel the captivating tapestry of Vietnam's history and culture with our handpicked selection of top movies about Vietnam. From gripping war dramas that portray the indomitable spirit of its people to poignant tales of love and sacrifice, these 12 films provide a unique and immersive insight into Vietnam's past and present.
1. Movies about life in the past society in Vietnam
1.1. The Floating Lives (2010)
Among many movies about Vietnam, The Floating Lives stands out as a compelling exploration of life in the past society. Adapted from the award-winning and best-selling short story “Boundless Rice Field” by esteemed Vietnamese author Nguyen Ngoc Tu, this sensational film masterfully portrays the lives of individuals living in the remote reaches of the Mekong Delta, where their existence is intimately tied to the whims of nature.
Directed by Nguyen Phan Quang Binh, the movie beautifully juxtaposes themes of cruelty and compassion, healing and suffering, distrust and reconciliation, all set against the backdrop of the Mekong Delta's mesmerizing landscape. With its stunning cinematography and captivating narrative, The Floating Lives offers an immersive journey into Vietnam's historical heritage, leaving a lasting impression on audiences worldwide.
1.2. The Buffalo Boy (2004) - One of the best movies about Vietnam in the early twentieth century
The Buffalo Boy is undeniably one of the most famous movies about Vietnam, offering a compelling window into the early twentieth century of the country's history. Directed by Nguyen Vo Nghiem Minh, this cinematic masterpiece transports viewers to a bygone era, where the story of a young buffalo boy unfolds amidst the rustic landscapes of rural Vietnam.
1.3. Cyclo (1995)
As a remarkable addition to the list of movies about Vietnam, Cyclo is a powerful creation by Vietnamese-French director Tran Anh Hung. Cyclo garnered acclaim and even secured the prestigious Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival in 1995. In contrast to his earlier gentle films, this cinematic masterpiece exposes the harsh and disturbing realities of low-class laborers in urban Saigon during the early 1990s.
1.4. Three Seasons (1999) - Among the best Vietnamese movies of all time
Helmed by director Tony Bui, an American born in Vietnam, this cinematic gem paints a vivid picture of Vietnamese society under a different form of invasion - a cultural one. Set in modern-day Ho Chi Minh City, the film poignantly portrays the clash between traditional values and the advent of luxury hotels, foreign advertising, and high fashion.
1.5. The Scent of Green Papaya (1993)
The Scent of Green Papaya, directed by Tran Anh Hung, is among the remarkable movies about Vietnam. This placid and beautiful film garnered significant acclaim, winning the Caméra d’Or prize at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival and earning an Oscar nomination in the international film category. The movie skillfully distances itself from the common theme of war, instead focusing on the poetic and peaceful world of a Saigonese family. Through the eyes of a young woman working as a servant, the film brilliantly observes the minute details of her physical surroundings, notably the delicate scent of green papaya.
1.6. Once Upon A Time in Vu Dai Village (1982) - Among the best movies about Vietnam village life
Once Upon A Time in Vu Dai Village stands out as an exceptional portrayal of Vietnam village life, offering a captivating journey into the heart of rural Vietnam. With skillful artistry, the film immerses viewers in the traditions, customs, and challenges faced by the villagers of Vu Dai Village. The movie's compelling narrative beautifully explores the complexities of human relationships, the strength of community bonds, and the simple yet profound joys found amidst the picturesque countryside.
2. Movies about the Vietnam War
2.1. When the Tenth Month Comes (1984)
Among the best movies about Vietnam War, When the Tenth Month Comes stands as a poignant masterpiece directed by Dang Nhat Minh. Widely regarded as one of the best Asian films of all time, this movie delves into the psychological suffering that lingers in the aftermath of the war.
Through the story of a widow whose husband perished in the conflict, the film captures the delicate balance between past sorrows and the journey towards healing. With great compassion and without propaganda, When the Tenth Month Comes portrays post-war Vietnamese society, explores themes of guilt and innocence, and offers a moving and sympathetic glimpse into the wake of the Vietnam War.
2.2. Little Girl of Hanoi (1974)
Little Girl of Hanoi is a compelling addition to the list of movies based on Vietnam War. This powerful film, directed by Hai Ninh, tells the gripping story of a young girl named Thuy, who is severely affected by the war's devastating consequences. Set in a war-torn Hanoi, the movie poignantly portrays the harrowing experiences and hardships endured by innocent civilians during the conflict. Through Thuy's eyes, the audience witnesses the profound impact of war on the lives of ordinary people, evoking empathy and understanding for the human cost of such historical events.
2.3. The Scent of Burning Grass (2012) - One of the must-watch Vietnamese movies about war
The Scent of Burning Grass is one of the best movies about Vietnam on Netflix, depicting the story of four patriotic Vietnamese boys who join the North Vietnamese army to fight for the liberation of South Vietnam. While not a propaganda film, it offers a different perspective compared to most movies about Vietnam War that showcase the American viewpoint. The film skillfully combines elements of romance, nationalism, and even humor while primarily focusing on the personal stories of the characters.
2.4. Rising Storm (1966)
Rising Storm is one of the best films about the Vietnam War. Directed by Huy Thanh and Le Ba Huyen, this cinematic gem follows the gripping story of two sisters torn apart by their opposing political allegiances. While one sister joins the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam, the other becomes an officer in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. Amidst the backdrop of war, "Rising Storm" skillfully weaves elements of romance, nationalism, and humor, providing unique insights into the human experiences of soldiers and civilians alike. As it explores the personal stories of its characters, the film sheds light on the complexities of guilt and innocence in a war-torn society.
2.5. Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
Good Morning, Vietnam is a remarkable addition to the collection of movies about Vietnam, offering a unique and engaging perspective on the war. Robin Williams delivers a memorable performance as Adrian Cronauer, a DJ sent to Vietnam to inject lively and inspiring entertainment into the Armed Forces Radio. However, his unconventional comic delivery clashes with the top military officials who deem it unsuitable for such a serious environment. As he interacts with the Vietnamese and experiences the realities of war firsthand, Cronauer undergoes a transformation, gradually uncovering the truths that don't make it to the broadcast. Robin Williams' outstanding portrayal in this film earned him an Oscar nomination.
2.6. The Abandoned Field: Free Fire Zone (1979) - Among the best movies about the Vietnam war
The Abandoned Field: Free Fire Zone is undeniably one of the best movies about Vietnam War. Directed by Nguyen Hong Sen, it provides a gripping and raw portrayal of the war's impact on soldiers and civilians. The film centers around the Free Fire Zone, a notorious area where military forces conducted heavy bombardments, leaving devastation in their wake. Through powerful storytelling and compelling performances, The Abandoned Field: Free Fire Zone delves into the harrowing experiences of those caught in the midst of the conflict, capturing the human cost and emotional toll of war.
Alongside captivating movies about Vietnam that portray the nation's past, venturing through its landscapes and interacting with its people brings a deeper understanding of the complexities and resilience that define this vibrant nation. Vietnam travel opens the door to a modern Vietnam, where ancient traditions harmoniously coexist with contemporary advancements. For a well-rounded experience of modern Vietnam, consider visiting some of its vibrant and picturesque destinations, such as Hanoi, Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Ha Long, and Da Nang.
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Movies about Vietnam serve as powerful windows into the nation's intricate tapestry of history, culture, and resilience. As we delve into the captivating narratives portrayed on screen, let us not forget that beyond the cinema lies a real Vietnam, waiting to be explored and experienced through travel. By both embracing the captivating world of movies about Vietnam and embarking on a journey through its landscapes and interacting with its people, you can truly immerse yourself in the essence of this captivating nation.