Mùi đu đủ xanh - The Scent of Green Papaya



☆ Masterpiece 

Mùi đu đủ xanh - The Scent of Green Papaya (1993) is a visual poem.


Directed by Tran Anh Hung.

Starring Tran Nu Yen KheMan San Lu and Hoa Hoi Vuong among many others.


Hung's film can best be described as cinematic contemplation. The kind of film that ignores plot and focuses on a state of being. The two female lead characters behave as non judgemental observers like the camera that filmed them. If you are familiar with buddhist themes you will have a deeper understanding of Hung's observational style of filmmaking. The visual style and direction make it easy to follow the plotless story that gradually unfolds.

Basically, the story is about a woman who is a servant in a wealthy home in Vietnam and who would be labeled as an Enlightened one by Buddhists. The beauty of the film comes for me from the way the camera has the viewer become a non-judgemental observer throughout the film. We see the world as the character sees it without being prejudiced about what is observed.

Both leads Man and Tran, who play the lead characters at 10 years apart are simply stunning in both their performances and their resemblance to each other. The camera captured their slightest internal thoughts that radiated through their eyes. Hung also used sounds to give the viewers a subtle understanding of what is happening offscreen. When Tran is busy doing housework we suddenly hear a loud jet flying low. This alludes to the Vietnam war that is gaining momentum around them and will eventually consume them.

The scene below best illustrates for me how Hung uses music to fill the screen with unspoken words. Watch how the mistresses words are drowned out by the loud piano playing. After a few moments the mistresses like we understand that their relationship is over. No long melodramatic soliloquies, just classical music that tells her that its over between these two mismatched lovers.      




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Trivia - The film was shot completely on a soundstage in Boulogne, France.




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Film Transcript





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