Culture Culture

11/11/2020 - 08:33

The house of “L’Armant”

I haven’t had the opportunity to read the French writer Margueritte Duras’s L’Amant (‘The Lover’), which was about her love with Huynh Thuy Le – a Chinese-born Vietnamese. The novel was translated into 43 languages and awarded with the Goncourt prize for Literature.

And yet French director Jean-Jacques Annaud’s film transformed from the novel really appealed me. I was so attracted by the magic beauty of the actress Jane March Horwood, the nourished love between Duras and Huynh Thuy Le (played by Leung Ka-fai) that ends in tear and the setting in the Southwest of Vietnam.

The ferry in My Thuan, where Huynh Thuy Le met 15-year-old Duras and she later agreed to get on his Limousine, started a new page for a romantic but eventful love affair. The love affair no longer went on when the cable bridge was build spanning the two banks of Tien river.

But the old scene is still there, especially Huynh Thuy Le’s house, 255A Nguyen Hue street, Sa Dec, Dong Thap. The house, conveniently located near the amenities, is consider a manifestation of a combination of 3 cultures.

At the first glance, the appearance of the house has the architectural style of Romance Renaissance. Inside the house, it has the Vietnamese tradition three-partitioned style. The decoration of the golden lacquer painted arches, on the other hand, displays the imprints of the Chinese architecture.

Interestingly, since Annaud’s film L’Armant was released in 1992, Huynh Thuy Le’s house has been visited by around 30,000 visitors to learn more about “the lover” of the famous 20th century writer Duras.

To provide more experience for visitors, tourist operators in Dong Thap have offered overnight stay in this two-bedroom house at the price of VND 1 million a room per night. This has created many interesting incidents. In 2013, the house was visited by a tourist who was later identified as the writer’s son.

Although there is no house closely tied with a tearful love affair making impression in international literature and movies as Huynh Thuy Le’s, Hue is proud to have hundreds of ancient houses associated with mysterious historic stories.

In 2017, when the Japanese Emperor paid a visit to Phan Boi Chau Memorial Complex and the cottage of “the Old Man of Ben Ngu”, there was later a confession that such a historic pride-worthy place was little known in Hue without the Japanese Emperor’s visit. After this visit, the place was reported to welcome many tourists, especially Japanese.

Recently, Victor Vu’s movie Mat biec (Dreamy Eyes) with many scenes lensed in Hue has been very appealing. After the movie was released, in addition to the “lonely tree” and Thien An Hill, the coffee house Mat biec at 66 Huynh Thuc Khang, which was set as the home of the main character Ha Lan, has become a check-in point for many tourists, especially the youngsters.

It is impossible to compare between Ha Lan’s house in ancient Bao Vinh town and Huynh Thuy Le’s in Sa Dec. Yet both are becoming popular thanks to the movies. It is the way literature and movies contribute to making tourist products widely known to the public.

By Dan Duy

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