Scent of Green Papaya, The (1993)

November 17, 2003 • Film, Reviews

[dir: Anh Hung Tran; prod: Adeline Lecallier, Alain Rocca, Christophe Rossignon; writer: Anh Hung Tran, Patricia Petit]

Cast:Tran Nu Yen-Khe, Man San Lu, Thi Loc Truong, Anh Hoa Nguyen, Hoa Hoi Vuong, Ngoc Trung Tran

Running Time: 104 mins.

Plot: A little girl, Mui, went to a house as a new servant. The mother still mourns the death of her daughter, who would have been Mui’s age. In her mind she treated Mui as her daughter. 10 years later Mui (now a young woman) was sent to another family, a young pianist and his wife. The musician falls in love with the peasant, he taught her literacy and they eventually married. A movie about a girl’s life.


Tran Ahn Hung made his directorial debut with this film starring his wife, Tran Nu Yen Khe (?). It is a very simple story of a peasant girl brought at a young age to work for the family of a wealthy musician. As the girl grows into a woman she becomes infatuated by her master and eventually she finds an insanely happy ending as his wife. A collection of beautiful images, with a most unusual story structure, excellent performances, and wonderful music and sound. The first of what will hopefully be many trips into director Tran’s mind, this movie is a suffoccatingly beautiful reminiscence on a bygone era.

Interestingly enough, the film was shot entirely on a French soundstage; but you’d never know it. This would be the last time to date Tran has used an entirely artificial space to stand in for the real city he is filming, although some of the buildings in Vertical Ray of the Sun are constructed within real city blocks of Hanoi.

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