Eliane adopts Camille, whose Vietnamese parents were friends. In 1930, a French navy officer is interested in Eliane (owns 60km2 plantation) and later in Camille. There's an uprising in Vietnam against French colonial power.
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Old woman Berthe leaves her house to live in her daugter Emilie's one. Emilie and her brother Antoine have fallen out three years ago and have not seen each other since, but Emilie invites ... See full summary »
In 1929 French Indochina, a French teenage girl embarks on a reckless and forbidden romance with a wealthy, older Chinese man, each knowing that knowledge of their affair will bring drastic consequences to each other.
Tony Ka Fai Leung,
June 1946: Stalin invites Russian emigres to return to the motherland. It's a trap: when a ship-load from France arrives in Odessa, only a physician and his family are spared execution or ... See full summary »
In the countryside near Normandy's beaches lives Marie, unhappy. It's 1944, she's married to Jérôme, a somewhat fussy milquetoast, diffident to the war around him and unwilling to move his ... See full summary »
French civilization in the desert. Saganne is of peasant stock, with courage and a forceful will. In 1911, he volunteers and is posted to the Sahara under the aristocratic Colonel Dubreuilh... See full summary »
This story is set in 1930, at the time when French colonial rule in Indochina is ending. A widowed 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.
Third time to watch it, I still cried for 15 minutes
OK let's get it out of the way up front, Eliane IS France, Camille IS Vietnam the story is their story. Of course it is told from the French viewpoint, France is telling the story about her child growing up. It is a sad story, the French lost. It was not a happy story for the Vietnamese they had to fight for 2 more years to be reunited and struggle for 15 more to start to come out of the whole process. That said this is one of the most beautiful movies ever made, period.
The intricate ballet of personal dealings and politics is carried out so well that one can easily get lost in the levels, just as one can get lost in the intricate dance that is life in Asia. What you see is what you see, it may be more or less depending.
I do not believe that the movie defends France not does it condemn her. That part of the story is wisely left alone, what remains is a human drama of the folly of resisting the inevitability of change. As the film unfolds the sheer weight of history comes down on all involved.
It is that weight that brings the tears. From the time that Jean-Baptiste is brought to Saigon to the closing credits, there is no escape for anyone. The old order is out the new is awaiting its time of entry upon the stage. It is a time for tears, a time to mourn and ultimately a time to heal.
Americans in particular have a funny sense of history. We forget that others have been down the same roads before us. France's relationship with vietnam was most likely more of a force in the history of its people than ours with all of our napalm will ever be, because the French left a legacy of life that could be seen even in the senslessness of the American presence.
This movie captures that relationship and transcends it. Masterpiece is the lest one can say about such a work.
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