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The White Silk Dress

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Director  Luu Huynh
Music director  Duc Tri
Country  Vietnam
7.4/10 IMDb

Genre  Drama
Cinematography  Nguyen Trinh Hoan
Writer  Luu Huynh
Language  Vietnamese
The White Silk Dress movie poster

Release date  October 13, 2006 (2006-10-13) (Pusan International Film Festival)
Initial release  February 25, 2010 (South Korea)
Cast  Truong Ngoc Anh (Dau), Khanh Quoc Nguyen (Gu), Nhu Quynh Nguyen, Bach Thuy Tong
Similar movies  Nguyen Nhu Quynh appears in The White Silk Dress and Wharf of Widows
Tagline  The White Silk Dress, Ao lua ha dong
Similar  Indochine (film), Cyclo (film), The Devil Wears Prada (film)

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The White Silk Dress (Áo lụa Hà Đông in Vietnamese) is a 2006 Vietnamese war film directed by Luu Huynh starring Truong Ngoc Anh and Nguyen Quoc Khanh. With a budget of over 2 million dollars, it is one of the most expensive Vietnamese films ever made.

The white silk dress


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The story begins in Ha Dong, Northern Vietnam in 1954 (now part of Hanoi), amidst crumbling French colonial rule in Vietnam. Dan and Gu are lovers, as well as servants in different households who suffer at the hands of their cruel masters. After Gu's master is assassinated, Dan and Gu flee south, eventually ending up in the central Vietnamese seaside town of Hoi An. There they raise a family, with Dan eventually giving birth to four girls. Although impoverished, the family love and support each other, even as the horrors of encroaching war threaten to tear them apart.


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The story emphasizes the importance of a white silk áo dài which Gu had given to Dan as a wedding gift before they fled south, with promises of a proper marriage someday in the future. Years later in Hoi An, Dan must sacrifice this one valued possession (amongst other hardships and humiliations she must endure), in order to support her family and to provide for her daughters the áo dàis required to attend school.

The White Silk Dress Cal VSA The White Silk Dress PremiereFilm Screening Cal VSA

The film ultimately is a tribute to the strength and heart of the Vietnamese woman, as symbolized through the áo dài.


The film was released in Vietnam in 2007 and was generally a hit, both critically and commercially. It won the top prize at the 2007 Golden Kite Awards (Vietnam's equivalent to the Oscars) and continues to win acclaim abroad at international film festivals. Richard Kuiper of Variety who had attended the film's screening at the Pusan International Film Festival called it "deeply moving" and remarked that "at packed screening caught, most audience members were in tears".

To date, its victories abroad at international film festivals include the Audience Award at the Pusan International Film Festival in South Korea, the Kodak Vision award at the Fukuoka Asian Film Festival in Japan, and the highly coveted "Best foreign film" award at the Golden Rooster Awards in China. The White Silk Dress has also been officially selected to represent Vietnam at the 80th Academy Awards in the Best foreign language film category.

Despite its success, the film has also received some criticism as well as controversy, especially surrounding the director's political leanings as conveyed through the film. This was preceded by similar controversy surrounding the director almost a decade earlier concerning a music video he was involved in which was perceived to be actively pro-communist by Vietnamese overseas. Interestingly, this time around Huynh faces fire from both sides rather than just the overseas Vietnamese community. Others question the historical accuracy of the film, as they contend that the Viet Minh uprising would have been unlikely in 1954, having already occurred in 1945. Furthermore, they charge that the modern áo dài, a recent development of the urban upper class in the 1930s, is unsuited to represent poor Vietnamese women.

The white silk dress


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