The Scent of Green Papaya (1993)

The Scent of Green Papaya (Vietnamese: Mùi Đu Đủ Xanh; French: L’Odeur de la Papaye Verte), directed by a French Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hung. His film portrays a domestic life of a bourgeois Vietnamese family, especially the representation of Vietnamese women, between the 1940s and 1950s. In this film, the audience can see a social hierarchy in women role in Vietnamese culture. The grandmother represents the highest hierarchy in the family. She is old and has the trouble of moving around the house, so she devoted her life living upstairs praying to the ancestor. The mother takes care of the family business because her husband is constantly absence at home to visit his mistresses, even though it is not indicated that he is having affairs directly in the story. The main character is a young girl named Mui, who is a servant for this family. The Scent of Green Papaya is different from the other three films because it tells a forgotten story about Vietnamese family during the war period. Director Tran Anh Hung has recreated the Vietnamese life based on his parents’ memories.[1] This film is about the acceptance of the traditional social hierarchy. His portrayal of each woman’s role in the film exhibits a cultural belief of how women should act and their responsibilities in society and family during 1940s. It shows a distinct narrative about Vietnamese women through Tran Anh Hung’s interpretation of women.


(The Lover 1992)

[1]Catherine Portuges, “Le Colonial Féminin: Women Directors Interrogate French Cinema,” in Cinema, Colonialism, Postcolonialism: Perspectives from the French and Francophone World, ed. Dina Sherzer (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996), 92.