Books and Movies before going to Vietnam

Before going to Vietnam, it is possible to read some books and watch some films that allow you to learn more about different aspects of the country such as history or culture, and to better understand the context in which it is found today. Here are some examples:


The Lover (Marguerite Duras): This is a novel partly autobiographical, strongly inspired by the life of the author who tells his childhood as well as his adolescence in Indochina. Several important events are taking place, and one can follow his love affair with a 27-year-old Chinese man when she was only 15 years old. This work retraces the author's desire to decide how she lives her life, facing many obstacles and a society that is not favorable towards relations between Europeans and Asians. Marguerite Duras won with this book the Goncourt prize and the Ritz-Paris-Hemingway prize in 1986.

Land of Forgetfulness (Duong Thu Huong): This is a work that recounts the story of a woman whose first husband declared dead at war suddenly reappears. She will be forced to leave her second husband to fulfill his duty to the first one, that she does not like anymore, become half crazy and who is psychologically and physically broken by the war. The narrator thus juggles between the 3 characters in a tragedy of the post-Vietnam war where society can put great pressure on individuals. Land of Forgetfulness has been awarded the Femina Prize for Best Foreign Novel.

Finally, it is also possible before your trip to Vietnam to arm yourself with a travel guide and to obtain some books that will help you with the basics of the language and to communicate in Vietnamese in situations that you encounter in Vietnam. This kind of book can also introduce you to certain rules of conduct and respect to be adopted in Vietnam.


Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola): This film tells the story of an American captain responsible for eliminating the leader of an indigenous troupe during the Vietnam War, using methods deemed inhuman and unhealthy. He then goes up the river with his crew and will gradually question the image he had of his target.

The film takes place at a time when the United States is no longer sure that they will win the war and shows a lukewarm view of the US military and their intervention in this war. Apocalypse Now therefore describes the Vietnam War according to the vision of the American side without praising it. On the contrary, it is one of the films that criticize the presence of Americans in this conflict and provides a good view of the reality on the ground.
Full Metal Jacket (Stanley Kubrick): Separated into two parts, this film traces the journey of young soldiers, first during their training before the Vietnam War, then in action during the summer's offensive.

This film also gives a negative image of the war, showing that it has the power to make any man crazy and violent, like the hero who sinks in turn after having managed to keep a share of lucidity for a moment. The soldiers are destined to become mere killing machines, and the two parts of the film each end dramatically.

Three seasons (Tony Bui): Three seasons change of register and tells the story of several characters whose destinies will cross in the city of Saigon. We are thus interested in a young woman who picks white lotus for his master, a former poet who sees his inspiration reborn through this woman. Then a rickshaw driver in love with a prostitute who wants to spend a night with her. Finally, a young boy meets a man in search of his daughter while he tried as usual to sell objects and trinkets. This film is extremely interesting because it shows Vietnam from another angle, a new face.