Culture Culture

08/03/2021 - 14:17

When Hue becomes a film studio

In recent years, Hue "suddenly" has become a popular destination for domestic and overseas Vietnamese filmmakers.

They chose Hue as the setting for movies, dramas, tourism promotion films, and music videos. Many films have been released and have had high box office revenue such as: The Muse of Hue (2018), Trang Quynh (2019), Dreamy Eyes (2019), The Royal Bride (2020) , Khong the cung nhau suot kiep (music video, 2020) ...

Many films have finished shooting in Hue and are in post-production, preparing to be released during the upcoming Lunar New Year's holiday season (2021): The Royal Bride - Camellia Sisters, Em va Trinh, Kieu ...

Photo: Le Ngoc

The predestined fate

Prior to 1975, Hue was also the "studio" of the movie Land of Sorrows, directed by (late) journalist Ha Thuc Can, which started filming in 1970 and finished in 1973. The film, which had the participation of (late) musician Trinh Cong Son, was considered to be a work of art reflecting the reality of the Vietnam War.

In 1992, the "Hue film studio" was active again when the French director Régis Wargnier chose this place to shoot many scenes in the movie Indochine (Indochina). Indochine was filmed in Saigon, Hue, Ha Long Bay, Tam Coc - Bich Dong (Ninh Binh) and many other places in Vietnam. In particular, the scenes in Hue were of the Perfume River, Thien Mu Pagoda, the Citadel, Tu Duc Tomb, Dong Khanh Tomb... The film introduced an ancient, quiet and surprisingly beautiful Hue to film enthusiasts all over the world.

The film was awarded an Oscar for "Best Foreign Language Film" by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) in 1993. The French Cinema also awarded 6 César awards in 1993 for the film Indochine.

Hue was also a filming site for many movies and TV series produced in Vietnam from the late 1980s to 2010s. Notably the movies: The Girl on the River (1987), A Night of Long Tri Festival (1989), Jade Leaves and Gold Branches (1989), Intense Childhood (1989), Kiep Phu Du (Fleeting life) (1990), Emperor Minh Mang (1991), The Royal Candle (2004), The Quiet River (2005), Nhan Hue lam que huong (Calling Hue my hometown) (2005), The Moon at the Bottom of the Well (2007), Hue – Mua mai do (Hue - the Red Apricot Season) (2013)...

Among them are many films that have won many awards in national and international film festivals such as: The Girl on the River, A Night of Long Tri Festival, The Moon at the Bottom of the Well...

The relationship continues today

The relationship between the cinema and the imperial land suddenly became more prominent when in just three years 2018 – 2020, nearly a dozen films of all genres, including the viral music video filmed in Hue.

One thing that is different from the past is that films shot in Hue a few decades ago had plots associated with the land and people of Hue, so filmmakers had to choose Hue as the main setting for their movie. However, the films made in Hue in the past few years are stories of "places far away”. There were even Hue local people who were chosen as the main actors of the film (such as Miss Hue Tourism in 2015 Le Tran Ngoc Tran in the series "The Muse of Hue" by the directors Nam Cito - Bao Nhan).

And this time, the filmmakers did not solely select the scenes of the golden palace, the ancient mossy citadel, or the famous places of Hue for scenes that could not be shot anywhere else. The scenery and people of Hue in these contemporary films are rich, diverse and full of surprises: from villages to towns, from famous historical sites to unknown "secluded places", from the roles of mandarins, intellectuals to everyday people...

Thus, it can be observed that films are no longer shot in Hue just because the plot is about Hue. The fact is that "Hue has made the film become more fascinating, special, eye-catching and appealing" in the contemporary films. In other words, filmmakers are rightly aware of the value of the landscape, history, culture and people of Hue to choose this place to shoot their films, not just because Hue has unique landscapes that other places do not.

It is this change in perception that has created a relationship between Hue and cinema over the years and will turn Hue into a potential "film studio" in the future.

A push for cultural and tourism development

If Hue becomes an attractive studio for Vietnamese cinema, it will certainly attract attention of international filmmakers. Hue would need to turn this strength into the key of the cultural development strategy, particularly in the field of cultural industry.

In countries with developed film industries such as China, Japan and Korea, the trend has been to build multi-function studios in suitable locations. Period films, historical films, even contemporary dramas and etc., are all filmed at these built studios.

This is because it is not possible to do all the scenes of a movie in the actual landmarks or historical sites for many different reasons. Therefore, filmmakers must combine both the constructed studio and the natural "film studio" to save money as well as to ensure authenticity of the film content.

Hue can definitely become such a "model studio" because Hue already has the history, landscape, and practical sites necessary for all genres of films; while having space for professional studios to be erected, serving the needs of domestic and international film crews in the future.

In addition, when Hue is chosen as the filming site of many films, surely the number of tourists flocking to Hue will increase rapidly, contributing to promoting the development of tourism, cuisine and shopping here. This fact has been proven in many places.

In Vietnam, there is currently no film studio like the film studios: Hengdian, Wuxi, Nanhai, Dunhoang ... (in China), or the studios: Nami Island, Shilla Millenium Park, Seoul Land , Bukchon Hanok village ... (in Korea). Thus, it is wise to invest in building a film studio in Hue. Along with the available natural heritage and landscape in Hue, it will turn the land of the Huong River - Mount Ngu into an important hub of the Vietnamese film industry in the future.

When the KBS (Korea) Winter Sonata series was widely broadcast in many countries in 2002, Nami Island, the main studio of this drama, became the most popular tourist attraction in Korea in the following years.

Likewise, the drama Dae Jang-geum, produced by MBC (Korea) in 2002, was about the royal palace servant Jang-geum, who thanks to her studiousness and talent, had mastered culinary secrets and traditional medicine, creating healthy and nutritious dishes and crafting valuable remedies for the Joseon dynasty. She was appointed the first and only female royal physician in Korean history. After the series was broadcasted internationally, the palaces of the Joseon dynasty in Seoul were flooded with foreign tourists and Korean food quickly climbed world food rankings.

The Hollywood Lord of the Rings Trilogy, which premiered in the years 2001 - 2003, had also attracted visitors to New Zealand in numbers never before seen, just because this movie was shot in this beautiful island nation.

Hue tourism will also have the same opportunity, once Hue becomes a land of cinema in the future.

Tran Huyen