Local film critics disappointed with Saigon Eclipse

May 22, 2007

11:43′ 21/05/2007 (GMT+7)

A scene of “flower” girls in Saigon Eclipse

VietNamNet Bridge – With an international cast and a theme about women’s hard lives, award-winning Saigon Eclipse, which opened in theatres last Friday, disappointed Vietnamese critics with its lack of understanding of Vietnamese culture.

A series of articles have been appearing in Vietnamese newspapers attacking the quality of Saigon Eclipse, which was co-produced by Film Studio 1 and Canadian producer John Board, directed by Vietnamese-French director Othello Khanh and has recently taken part in the Asian Pacific Film Festival, as well as won the jury’s special prize at the Worldfest Houston International Film Festival.

Most critics consider the image of Vietnamese women in the movie uncharacteristic, unrealistic and disparaging. For instance, the leading character, a countryside girl, meets a stranger and agrees to be his lover in order to achieve her dream of living a better life in the US.

A southern old woman meets this same man for the first time and instantly offers to sell her granddaughter to him. Girls voluntarily line up to sell themselves, and prostitutes shamelessly pester foreign men with emails asking for money.

Though film critics applaud Othello Khanh’s effort to make a movie to protest against transnational woman trafficking, they think Saigon Solar Eclipse doesn’t reflect a good grasp of Vietnamese life and people, but merely a film about a Vietnam seen through the eyes of a foreigner.

Other details such as the overuse of English in the dialogues of Vietnamese characters also nettle them. Nguyen Thi Hong Ngat, Chairman of the Saigon Eclipse Censorship Board, also joins in the criticism.

“I personally don’t like this movie. The film was written and directed by overseas Vietnamese so it seems to take place somewhere else rather than in Vietnam. For instance, Kieu’s mother’s human sales are unrealistic.”

“Kieu’s love story isn’t similar to the love between Thuy Kieu and Kim Trong in the Tale of Kieu. Mafia bosses happily sit chatting with each other. Policemen freely reveal their identity, not to mention the fact that actors speak annoyingly imperfect Vietnamese.”

“I think the director’s intention is good since he wants to protest the selling of women. Yet, the film supposedly about Vietnam was made without a deep understanding of Vietnamese culture and the interpersonal relationships in the life of the Vietnamese.”

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