April 30 is not an ordinary day in Vietnam. In 1975, the fall of Saigon to Communist forces at the tail end of the Vietnam War happened. But that’s not the only reason Vietnamese across the country (and probably even those in the other parts of the world) commemorate this day. Forty-seven years ago, Vietnam’s two major regions (the North and the South) were reunited under one government — the Reunification Day.
This year, the Reunification Day (April 30) and International Workers' Day (May 1) fall on Saturday and Sunday, so everyone in Vietnam will have two extra days off the following Monday (May 2) and Tuesday (May 3). If you’re not planning to go out of town, here are five movies you can stream over the long weekend to learn more about the Vietnam War and the history of Vietnam.
Em bé Hà Nội (Girl From Hanoi)
Girl From Hanoi is a film produced by Vietnam Film Studio in 1974. It depicts life in Hanoi in 1972 when US Army conducted the Linebacker II Operation. The mentioned girl is Ngoc Ha, a 10-year-old girl who had to find her parents and sister amidst the ruins of Hanoi. Its success comes from special effects and its depth in exploring the brutal truth of war. Em bé Hà Nội is available on YouTube.
Mùi Cỏ Cháy (The Scent of Burning Grass)
Released in 2012, The Scent of Burning Grass was based on Nguyen Van Thac's diary Forever Twenty. The main characters are four university students Hoàng, Thành, Thăng, Long (the characters’ names together create the phrase “Hoang Thanh Thang Long” - Imperial Citadel of Thang Long). Following the general mobilization command, these young men joined the force and fought in the battle at Quang Tri Citadel.
To Vietnam people, battles at Quang Tri Citadel are filled with painful memories as many soldiers have fallen for the sake of our country. The movie is a reminder to everyone to preserve the peace that our ancestors have bravely protected. Mùi Cỏ Cháy is streaming on Netflix.
Vĩ Tuyến 17 Ngày Và Đêm (17th Parallel, Days and Nights)
One year “Girl From Hanoi" was released, Director Hai Ninh also created “17th Parallel, Days and Nights." It is one of the most iconic films about the Vietnam war. The movie takes place after the Geneva Treaty 1954, when Ben Hai River became the barrier separating two parts of the country. You can watch Vĩ Tuyến 17 Ngày Và Đêm here.
Áo Lụa Hà Đông (The White Silk Dress)
“The White Silk Dress" is another movie set in 1954, when the war against the French was closing up. In the time of war and difficulty, a love story between Dan and Gu is trying to survive while preserving their most precious asset - a white silk dress. The dress is passed through three generations of the family and is also evidence of wartime. You can watch Áo Lụa Hà Đông on Netflix.
Đừng Đốt (Don't Burn)
“Don't Burn" is a film based on doctor Dang Thuy Tram’s diary, written from April 8, 1968 to June 20, 1970 (two days prior to her death). In the movie, you will follow Fred Whitehurst, an American soldier. After finding Tram's diary, with the help of a fellow soldier, he started translating the diary. He slowly found out about the horrors that this doctor has experienced during the war. Watch Đừng Đốt here.