The Scent of Green Papaya

1993

Drama / Music / Romance

103
IMDb Rating 7.3 10 7,510

Synopsis


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May 11, 2020

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720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
954.33 MB
1280*720
Vietnamese 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
104 min
P/S N/A / N/A
1.73 GB
1920×1080
Vietnamese 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
104 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by orinocowomble 8 / 10 / 10

A Film For the Thinking Viewer

If your taste runs to action blockbusters, this film is not for you. The Scent of Green Papaya is the sort of film that repays patient observation, and lends itself to repeated viewings. I'm not an "intellectual"--I will admit I had to take a couple of runs at this film before I understood what I was seeing. The first time, I turned it off 20 min. into it, saying, "Nothing's happening here!" That's true, if you're used to Western films that are driven by action and dialog. Like many Asian films, TSOGP is instead driven by inter-action between characters and observation. The camera functions as an "eye" to show us life from the character's point of view. After seeing the entire film, I became aware that it had become a part of my mental furnishings; I realised I was spending quite a lot of time thinking about it in the following days. I'm told by those who live with me that the highest compliment I can give a film are the words, "I need to see it again." And I do--I need to buy a copy and see it several more times. Ten year old Miu is sent from her home village to Saigon to work as a servant in a cloth merchant's household. She is fascinated by their beautiful home and its furnishings, the papaya tree in the courtyard, and how very different their lifestyle is to what she has known. The youngest son of the family sees her arrival as a golden opportunity--at last someone is lower on the family totem-pole than himself, and he tries to bully Miu in various ways. However, his attempts fall flat as he never gets much of a reaction; in her innocence, Miu accepts events as they come, never trying to assign blame or "tell" on him. If a jar gets broken, she accepts it is her fault; if a pail of dirty water gets upended or "someone" pees all over a clean floor, she cleans it up without a word. Her employer's wife soon sees her as a surrogate daughter, someone to fill the void of her own daughter's death and her own loveless marriage to a spendthrift husband who abandons the family for weeks at a time and comes home empty handed. Ten years later, Miu is sent to work for a family friend, a young man she has long admired. His relationship with a spoiled girl of his own class flickers out as he becomes more aware of Miu's quiet presence in his life. All of the "action" of the film is crammed into the last 30 min, as we see the results of his growing awareness and its transforming effect. The film is stunning to look at, as usual in much of Asian cinema. If I had one complaint, it was the soundtrack; not the traditional Vietnamese music played by father and son at the beginning of the story, but the tortuous "contemporary" Western music in the second half, including a dreadful rendition of Debussy's Claire de Lune--as if an alley cat were trying to play the violin on its own cat-guts. The caterwauling added nothing to the film, and only served as an irritating distraction. This is what caused me to lower my rating of this otherwise fine film.

Reviewed by howard.schumann 8 / 10 / 10

A society of grace and harmony

In Tran Anh Hung's debut film The Scent of Green Papaya, Mui (Lu Man San) is a ten-year old girl who comes from a small village to the home of a wealthy Saigon merchant to work as a servant in 1951. The first Vietnamese film ever nominated for an Academy Award as Best Foreign Language Film, Scent of Green Papaya captures the natural beauty of pre-war Vietnam, even though it was filmed on a set constructed in a Paris studio. Mui personifies the innocence of a Vietnamese society where grace and harmony has not yet given way to bombs and destruction. Mui accepts her place with patience, serving the meals, preparing the vegetables, scrubbing the floors, and polishing the shoes. True to the Buddhist ideal of being in the present moment, Mui studiously carries out her tasks, refusing to be affected by the torments of the younger son Tin (Gerard Neth), upset over his father's desertion of the family. She observes her natural surroundings in great detail: ants carrying a small piece of bread, a frog sitting on a leaf, a cricket jumping at night, and the seeds of a green papaya. The mother (Thi Loc Truong) is distraught over the recent death of her young daughter To and looks upon Mui as her replacement, perhaps even her reincarnation. In one scene, the mother stands over Mui while she sleeps and weeps silently for the loss of her daughter and perhaps for a Vietnam that she knows will soon disappear. Her husband (Ngoc Trun Tran) is a drinker and womanizer who has run off with the family's money. The mother is stoic and we only hear about her problems through the elderly grandmother (Thi Hai Vo) who mourns her dead husband alone in her upstairs room. The second part of the film shifts ten years into the future. Mui (Tran Nu Yen-Khe) has become a young woman. Because of the family's financial condition she has moved to the house of Khuyen, a professional musician and composer (Vuong Hoa Hoi). Her leaving triggers in the mother a profound sense of loss for her "daughter" and a sense that the old way of life in her country is coming to a permanent end. In her new house, Mui must contend with the musician's Westernized fiancé who personifies the artificiality of modern society. Annoyed with the insensitivity of his fiancé, Khuyen sees Mui with fresh eyes and begins to realize how much she embodies the traditional values he has left behind. Though the film may try the patience of Western audiences, The Scent of Green Papaya, in its simplicity and awareness of the natural world, reminds us of the power of cinema to reach artistic heights.

Reviewed by smythe_23 8 / 10 / 10

Beautiful Film

The Scent of Green Papaya is one of those films that is easy to enjoy no matter where you're from. A visually striking film that utilizes setting and cinematography over dialogue, it's easy to see why it did so well internationally. I can't think of many films that can totally relax me and clear my mind- something that is only possible when I'm completely engulfed and not bothered by massive amounts of dialogue. Since the visuals tell most of the story, we're left with a very deep film that isn't tedious or overbearing so that we can focus without trying to read lots of subtitles or follow ten different things on screen at once. The simple but elaborate set style adds to the "film as a universal" feeling that I got while watching it. Focusing on one thing in Papaya is rather hard as it really works well as a sum of its parts. Without the incredible cinematography, the story would probably be lost on most audiences. Without the beautiful sets that the actors mesh with so well, you'd be pulled out of the reality of the film. Without the great acting (especially by the actresses that play Mui), the film falls flat on its face. It's one of those movies that seems to (and this happens at least once or twice a year for me) completely reshape my idea of what a film can and can't be. It's kind of like pot for the eyes. It seems that most movies these days (and this is a broad generalization) are just glorified plays. If you could find someone that would sit through this as a play for 90 minutes, well, they're just stupid. Maybe that's a little bit harsh, but at the least they'd have to be pretty patient people. I have a hard time believing that it could work. *Very Mild Spoilers In the Third Paragraph* To me, the best films are ones that are deep enough that they require multiple viewings to truly understand, but not so deep that I feel lost and turned off from (see: Goodbye South, Goodbye). The first thing I noticed about Papaya was the wonderful use of background noise. I originally thought it was a bit annoying, but as the film pushed on, the cricket in a cage theme fleshed out as a major part of the story. When Mui opens the door on the little cage right before she leaves the house she spent half her life in, and the cricket sticks to the door I saw the connection to her life. It's wholly depressing that the mother is in fact losing her surrogate daughter and Mui seems very uncertain about what her future holds when she leaves. She is the caged cricket that is scared to leave its home. The transformation she makes in her new surroundings is only possible because she took that step- she leaves the nest. Also, the background noise plays an important part in what is going in the film, but only in that it's never discussed. The jets flying over the house in the second part of the film adds to the setting even more because there is no need to mention it- we are too caught up in Mui's transformation into a woman to care about wars and such. Not resorting to explanatory dialogue when most filmmakers would is something that makes Tran Anh Hung an exciting and original filmmaker. He's the anti Godard in a sense (no way can I actually back up that statement as I've only seen a couple of Godard's older movies- but from what I know, this seems like a logical jump). The Scent of Green Papaya isn't necessarily one of the best movies I've ever seen, but it sure is one of the most original. I think that pretty much anyone could make at least a decent film with the proper training, but films like Papaya are a testament to true vision and talent. You give this script to anyone else and you'd end up with a vastly different film. If that's not voice, I don't know what is.

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