Vietnamese Films

In contrast to American films, the main narrative trope of Vietnamese films about the war (produced between 1979 and 1986) focused on the endorsement toward the family of veterans. These films illustrate the tough rural life and how Vietnamese families survive the war. American soldiers were portrayed no more than a generic enemy, no different from other foreign invaders in previous eras. Contrary to the popular perception that Vietnamese films about the war must be propagandist in nature, many films produced in Vietnam during the 1980s were meant quite humanistic and devoid of explicit politics. These films were called the Vietnam Revolutionary Cinema to describe the narrative trope as it corresponds to politics, war, and Vietnamese history, which the state was fully sponsored the film productions.[1]

The year of 1991 marked a significant turning point in Vietnamese foreign affairs because the state finally opened its foreign policy to welcome Westerners to travel freely in Vietnam. This created opportunities for foreigners to come to Vietnam and make films about Vietnam’s history. However, Vietnamese films about the war during this period had stopped. It can be argued that in 1986, Vietnam initiated economic reforms with a goal to create a socialist-oriented market economy. This economic reform was known as “đổi mới.” The situation limited the production of war films because it would drive out foreigners’ interest in investing and industrializing Vietnam. Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Vietnamese film industry has been moving beyond the political agenda to portray the war objectively. By looking at the timeline, both American and Vietnamese film industries have similar content in producing films about the Vietnam War. Having examined these films, there is an overall conclusion that American films about the Vietnam War reflected the popular culture and Americans’ consciousness of American politics and media, whereas Vietnamese films served a political purpose in reunifying the country, especially in South Vietnam because the region was under the U.S. protection.

The Abandoned Field: Free Fire Zone (1979)

When the Tenth Month Comes (1984)

Contemporary Vietnamese Film Industry

[1] Vuong Ha, “60 Years of Vietnam Film Industry: Desire to Discover the Golden Era,” Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, translated by the author,