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||IMDB Rating: 7.1/10 from 6,981 votes
||Release: 7 January 1993 (Netherlands) /
||Genre: Drama, Romance
||Director: Régis Wargnier,
||Stars: Alain Fromager, Andrzej Seweryn, Carlo Brandt, Catherine Deneuve, Chu Hung, Dominique Blanc, Gérard Lartigau, Henri Marteau, Hubert Saint-Macary, Jean Yanne, Jean-Baptiste Huynh, Linh Dan Pham, Mai Chau, Thibault de Montalembert, Vincent Perez
||Synopsis: This story is set in 1930, at the time when French colonial rule in Indochina is ending. An unmarried French woman who works in the rubber fields, raises a Vietnamese princess as if she was her own daughter. She, and her daughter both fall in love with a young French navy officer, which will change both their lives significantly. Written by Anonymous
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Watch Indochine - Alternative Versions.
There is some difference of opinion about whether this is a good film
or not. Some have called it a "soap opera" beautifully filmed. (Both
Leonard Maltin in his Movie and Video Guide and the good people at
Video Hound used that designation.) But I don't think that is correct
at all. Beautifully filmed yes, stunning at times like something from
David Lean; and in fact this film has more in common with the Hollywood
panoramic epic than it does with the tradition of the French cinema.
But it is certainly not a soap opera. In a soap opera the important
element is a narrow focus on things material, social, and sexual played
out in a banal, cliché-ridden and bourgeois manner. In Indochine the
focus is on political change and why it came about.
The story begins in Vietnam in 1930 and concludes on the eve of the
communist revolution in 1954--presaging the tragic American involvement
a decade later. Catherine Deneuve plays Eliane Devries, the
strong-willed owner of a rubber plantation in Vietnam, then part of the
French colonial empire. Having no children of her own (or a husband)
she raises the Vietnamese girl Camille (Linh Dan Pham) as her own. She
conducts secret affairs (and even visits opium dens) while maintaining
the appearance of respectability. We are shown the decadence of the
French living in Vietnam and the exploitive evils of colonialism, hardy
the stuff of soap opera. We are made aware of the social unrest
stirring amongst the population and even shown what amounts to a slave
auction conducted by the colonial powers with the aid of the French
military, in particular, the French navy.
Enter Jean-Baptiste (Vincent Perez), a handsome French naval officer
who, despite the difference in their ages, initiates an affair with
Eliane. She is at first put off, then reluctant, and then madly in
love. Perhaps this familiar progression is what some think of as soap
opera material; and perhaps it is, although their affair is only a
small part of the film, and at any rate, such behavior is entirely
consistent with Eliane's character and that of Jean-Baptiste, and is
necessary for the plot developments to come.
Deneuve was nominated for Best Actress by the Academy but didn't win
(Emma Thompson won for Howard's End), but the film itself won as Best
Foreign Film. In truth Deneuve's performance is a little uneven.
Regardless, this is one of the most important roles in the career of an
actress who was as beautiful in 1991 when this film was made as she had
been in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) at the beginning of her
career. Indeed, I would say even more beautiful. My favorite Deneuve
film, by the way, is Mississippi Mermaid (1969) with Jean-Paul Belmondo
directed by Francois Truffaut.
Also uneven is the direction by Regis Wargnier. The scenes set in
Saigon involving the French and the Mandarins at their pleasures amid
their wealth as they maintain their privilege are done with strikingly
beautiful interiors splashed with the kind of color seen in, for
example, the films of Chinese director Zhang Yimou. The scenes amount
to indictments of the French and demonstrate why the communists
eventually came to power. Note that the privileged are always decked
out in the most amazing displays of color while the workers and the
peasants are brown and dirty.
The panoramic cinematography of the Vietnamese country is also
strikingly beautiful. We are shown the sheer cliffs falling into
tranquil waters dotted with junks, the rock outcrops nestled in verdant
growth, the angry skies, and the deluge of the monsoon. But the trek of
Camille across the land to find her beloved is not realistically done.
Her quick incorporation in a peasant family is also not convincing. And
the following scene in which she and Jean-Baptiste escape from the
slave market defies probability. However what becomes of her and him is
brutally realistic and consistent with what we know about those times,
although I would like to have seen them being fed when they are rescued
and some indication of how they spent their time in that
Shangri-la-like hidden valley.
Despite the flaws and inconsistencies, this is a fine cinematic
experience, enthralling, disturbing and visually beautiful. See this as
a prelude to all other films about Vietnam and the Vietnam War. What
will become clear is how foolish was our involvement and how doomed to
failure it had to be.
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut
to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it
Tags for Indochine Full Movie
, Andrzej Seweryn
, Carlo Brandt
, Catherine Deneuve
, Chu Hung
, Dominique Blanc
, Gérard Lartigau
, Henri Marteau
, Hubert Saint-Macary
, Jean Yanne
, Jean-Baptiste Huynh
, Linh Dan Pham
, Mai Chau
, Thibault de Montalembert
, Vincent Perez
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