Its final scenes are being shot at full speed, as the feature film “Dao, Pho & Piano” or Peach Blossom, Beef Noodle Soup and Piano is about to be released on the occasion of April 30 and May 1 (National Reunification Day and International Labour Day). The film was commissioned by the Cinema Department under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and produced by Film Studio No. 1 JSC.
A recreation of Hanoi as it was nearly 80 years ago
“Dao, Pho & Piano” tells the story of a young couple who braved the dangers to see each other on the last day, February 17, 1947, before the Vietnamese troops withdrew to the Viet Bac military zone, beginning the long-running resistance war.
Having met in the middle of a street battle, the lovers only had a few hours left to get married, in a situation between life and death. The plot focuses on their last moments - the moments of love for life, beauty, and freedom.
Against a background of the fierce house-to-house, street-to-street battle in 60 days and nights, against the evil and the cruelty of war, are the images of patriotic yet graceful Hanoians, who willingly dedicate their lives to protect the beloved Hanoi as well as their passions.
It’s about a sincere militia soldier who yearns for a peaceful life with his young wife yet fearlessly stands alone against a whole warring army to prove that the people of the capital are not afraid of the enemy and to avenge his murdered compatriots.
It’s about a romantic and pious old-quarter young lady who dares to join the fight. They love each other so much that they devote themselves to each other, even though they know that death is only a few hours away.
It’s also about an old painter, who spent his life searching for the essence of sublime beauty and found it in the very people around him. He fell down while trying to protect the painting he has worked on all night.
There’s also a smart, innocent shoeshine boy, as well as a priest who don’t want to get involved in the war but still stood tall in front of the enemy's guns.
Or a pho-vending married couple, who passionately spread the traditional dish and, despite the fear of death, still try to carry the last basket of pho to the battleground.
And a Western-educated court judge, full of doubts about the resistance capability of the Vietnamese side, but still clearly distinguishing between good and evil...
The film features a cast of talented actors, including Doan Quoc Dam as the militia soldier, Thuy Linh as the young lady, Meritorious Artist Tran Luc as the old painter, Thien Hung as the shoeshine boy, singer Tuan Hung as the court judge, People’s Artist Trung Hieu as the bishop, artist Anh Tuan as the pho vendor.
People’s Artist Trung Hieu shared that this was the first time he played the role of a priest, so he spent a lot of time learning the typical manners and gestures of a clergyman. “When I read the script, I really liked this role - a role of a peace-loving bishop who doesn’t want war but always devotes himself to good things, romantic love and happiness”, he expressed his feelings.
Meanwhile, Meritorious Artist Tran Luc believed that this movie is different from previous ones about war: tragic yet heroic, humanistic, romantic and sweet. “I like the approach taken by the director and the film crew. My role as an old painter is an unnamed but truly Hanoian character,” said Luc.
|Artis Tran Luc in the movie themed Hanoi. Photo: VNA|
A monumental, well-organized film set
According to Director Phi Tien Son, the feature film “Dao, Pho & Piano” is expected to convey to viewers the Hanoi of nearly 80 years ago, along with the whole country, bravely fighting against the invaders in response to President Ho Chi Minh’s call for national resistance.
In the film, the indomitable dignity of the Vietnamese people permeates all the inhabitants of Hanoi. At the same time, it shows an elegant Hanoi determined to die for the Fatherland together with its citizens, regardless of their age, profession, class or religion.
Explaining the name of the movie, the Meritorious Artist said that he had been born and raised in Hanoi and spent his whole life there, so he always wanted to make a film about the capital, showing the good things and characteristics of this land.
In the movie, the fiercest final days of the street battle are just before Tet (Lunar New Year holiday) - the occasion when peach blossoms are a must. In the past, flowers were rare and precious, not as abundant as today.
As for food, Pho has always been a familiar dish among Hanoians. And in the quiet atmosphere of the old Hanoi, the sound of the piano playing in a certain house could often be heard. These specialties of Hanoi were the inspiration for as well as became the title of “Dao, Pho & Piano”. In addition to the special name, another impressive feature of the film is the large-scale studio.
|The main scene of the film with Hanoi's old townhouses in the 1940s. Photo: VNA|
According to designer Vu Viet Hung at Film No. 1 JSC, finding the filming location suitable to the effects of fire, explosion, or collapse was a challenging process, as the safety of residents living nearby had to be ensured while the silence was also necessary for consistent sound recording. With the support of the Ministry of National Defense, the crew found the location on the old barrack of Regiment E24 in Dai Lai, Phuc Yen City, Vinh Phuc Province.
After more than five months of construction, with the design and production teams, including veterans of many historical and war movies, an old quarter of 1940s Hanoi was built, nearly 100 meters long with grocery stores, tailor shops, diners and even tanks and trams. Director Phi Tien Son said that there had never been a Vietnamese film where the set preparation was as thorough and took as long as this one.
Meritorious Artist Tran Luc also expressed his surprise at how well-organized and monumental the set is, believing this is the largest historical film set ever built in Vietnam. This set allows for 360-degree camera rotation, which means there will be more long shots where artists can better express emotions.
According to Director of Cinema Department Vi Kien Thanh, it has been a long time since Vietnamese cinema has had such a large-scale studio. The huge space, which facilitates camera angles and continuous hots, shows the professionalism of the design team. It is a pity that the set won’t be kept as a tourist attraction or a site for history education.
Similarly, People’s Artist Trung Hieu regretted that the studio whose construction was heavily invested is about to be dismantled. He has visited many film studios in countries with developed cinema industry, which are maintained after filming and attract a lot of tourists. In a more advanced cultural industry environment, such film sets should be kept for tourism, contributing to local economic development, the artist said.