Monday, May 11, 2009
Movie Review - Journey from the Fall
Journey from the Fall is my second selection, representing Vietnam, for the Orbis Terrarum film mini-challenge.
Journey from the Fall tells the story of a Vietnamese family torn apart by war. Long, the father, is fighting against the communist regime. When the Americans leave, he is taken prisoner by the new communist government, and sent to re-education training - basically a concentration camp. We witness his deprivations, and watch as he listens to fellow prisoners plan escapes, only to fail. One day, unexpected circumstances give him the opportunity to attempt an escape, and we watch him and a fellow prisoner race through the jungle, headed who knows where.
Meanwhile, the mother, Mai, and son, Lai, are also in hiding, known as a family whose father is a traitor. When they have the opportunity, they become boat people, being smuggled by a generous boat captain out of the country. When their ship is attacked by pirates, Mai is badly burned, and they watch their friends be taken into captivity. Almost dead, their small boat is rescued, and Mai and Lai manage to make it to California.
Once in America, however, their lives are far from perfect. Lai struggles in school, acting out against other children, and Mai works long hours to support the family. They also can't ever forget that Long is still in Vietnam, and mourn the loss of their family.
This is quite a powerful movie. I've seen several films detailing the Vietnam war - soldiers on the ground, shooting and bombing, etc - but this is the first that has dealt with the tragedy of the lives the war leaves behind. Mai and Lai are both incredibly damaged by what they've seen, and I don't know how they could be anything else. It's not especially fast-paced, but for someone willing to have patience, I think it's worthwhile to check this one out.